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Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant goes up for a dunk during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant goes up for a dunk during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

ERIC DUHATSCHEK

How the Lakers became star-crossed in Hollywood Add to ...

Nash, who turned 39 last week, acknowledged: “I’m not as efficient as I’ve played in the past” and then tellingly went on to say: “I’m just trying to embrace the role I’ve been given. I’m not going to wonder about how I look here. This is about the team. We have enough voices around here. We don’t need to add mine to the mix.”

Two nights later, when asked how the Lakers should embrace the home stretch once they return from the all-star break, Nash answered in his usual even-keeled manner: “I think just get up for it, embrace it. We’ve got a big challenge and really embrace it and look forward to it and try to come back with a lot of fire and a lot of fight and just give ourselves a chance.”

The NBA trading deadline is next week and the Lakers will likely stand pat, on the grounds that any further changes to their core group at this stage of the season would not help them get into sync.

According to D’Antoni, the Lakers are in the playoff race until the arithmetic says they are eliminated, but acknowledged: “Every day that goes by, it gets a little harder. We’ve had a lot of turmoil, on and off the court that we had to get through – and we’re starting to get through it a little bit. It’s getting better.

“I always said, we’ve got a lot of talent, a lot of pieces that are as good as anybody’s, but they have to fit together … We need to get to the point where we’re as good as anybody in the league – and we still have time to do that.”

Maybe so, but in what began as such a season of promise, the clock is ominously ticking away in Laker country. Tick, tick, tick.

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