Steve Nash has never been one to shy away from the battle. Especially this time of year.

And certainly not against these San Antonio Spurs.

A piece of Nash's nose might still be stuck inside the forehead of the Spurs' Tony Parker from their infamous collision in the 2007 playoffs, when the then-Phoenix Suns point guard played through the blood, the sweat and, eventually, the tears. That's how it has been for most of Nash's 12 years against his arch-nemesis — six series losses in seven tries during his time with the Dallas Mavericks and with the Suns, with Timmy, Tony and Manu always standing in the way when those championship hopes were so high. As painful, one-sided rivalries go, it's on the NBA's all-time short list.

All of which makes Nash's current state so utterly gut-wrenching for the ailing 39-year-old and his Los Angeles Lakers.

As if the ageless Spurs don't pose enough problems on their own, Nash — who missed the final eight games of the regular season with a hip and hamstring injury before returning in the Lakers' Game 1 loss Sunday — is trying to be a difference-maker while remaining among the walking wounded. The Lakers will attempt to even the series in Game 2 in San Antonio on Wednesday.

"It's frustrating, because we've been through so much that you want a chance to overcome it now," said Nash, who missed nine of 15 shots in Game 1 and admitted afterward that he wasn't himself just yet. "I love to play, and I love this team. I want to fight for these guys and be part of this team having some happy times. We've had a lot of down days, and we stuck with it.

"We've all fought and fought and fought and not got a lot of joy out of it. That's why I'm still thrilled to get a chance to play in this series, thrilled to try to fight for my teammates and try to make something good happen out of all of this."