As Gregg Popovich well knows, it’s one thing to sit a veteran player, but it is wholly another when it's a close game in the fourth quarter. That's what happened with Steve Nash in the Lakers’ 91-85 loss to Popovich’s Spurs on Friday night.

Last season’s Lakers train wreck was already humbling for ring-less Nash. He was marginalized in training camp by Mike Brown’s Princeton offense, broke a leg in the second game and bowed out of the playoffs early because of nerve problems in his back and hamstring.

So far this season, Nash has suffered a bruised left quadriceps before watching backup Jordan Farmar key the Lakers’ opening victory. He sat out the loss at Golden State the next night to rest and then was held out at the end of the loss to the Spurs. Mike D’Antoni chose Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks over the two-time NBA MVP who only wrote D’Antoni’s ticket in this league.

“It’s a process,” D’Antoni answered when I asked him about his expectations now for Nash. “He’s got to get his legs under him. That’s the biggest thing.”

That has been the story of Nash’s Lakers life to date, and his body betrayed him again Friday night. He came into the game feeling good—“relatively quick,” he said—but missed a lot of easy shots with ample room to operate against a Popovich defense not showing him any respect.

Nash didn’t feel so good by the time the fourth quarter came, that sore quad having absorbed enough blows that there were muscle spasms. Nash referred to it as a charley horse in the same upper leg where he had so many hamstring issues late last season.