They might get another chance.
In one of the final dramas of a long-ago discarded season, Friday was supposed to be the last game of 2013-14, if not a career, for the 40-year-old point guard.
Nash had four points and seven assists in only his 14th appearance this season, his chronically sore back preventing him from playing so many other times.
The Lakers currently plan to bring him back next season and see what he can do in the final part of a three-year, $28-million contract. The other option is waiving him by Sept. 1 and spreading out his remaining $9.7 million salary over three seasons.
What if the latter happens … and no one picks him up?
"I think it's way too early to surmise that," said D'Antoni, who coached Nash in Phoenix during his two MVP seasons. "If it happens, it happens and he's had an unbelievable career, a Hall of Famer for sure. Take a good luck because you're looking at one of the best point guards ever."
Forgetting the future for a second, even Nash hinted Friday could be his final game this season.
"This could be it tonight," he said several hours before tipoff.
He hadn't planned to play Sunday afternoon against the Clippers because it closely resembled the type of back-to-back situations he avoided all season.
Jordan Farmar is expected to return next Tuesday from a groin injury, meaning Nash could leave the ball-handling duties to Kendall Marshall and Farmar for the final handful of games.
But D'Antoni sounded certain that Nash wouldn't ride into the season-ending sunset before its official end.
"I thought Steve played well," D'Antoni said after the game. "I think you will see him again. I think he will play some more."
There are few positives to fall from the sky since the Nash-to-the-Lakers story became official in July 2012. He has played only 64 games over two seasons.
Nash said he found something, though.
"I'm in a pretty good place this year compared to last year," he said. "I was in a dark place last playoffs when I couldn't even sprint. I wasn't able to sprint until late August or September. So that five months was a big deficit."
Translation — things could always be worse.
Nash was averaging 7.3 points and 5.7 assists before Friday. He needed 12 assists to pass Mark Jackson for third on the NBA's all-time list but got as far as 10,330 in his career. John Stockton had 15,806 assists and Jason Kidd had 12,091.
Dallas (46-31) had much more to play for than the Lakers, finding itself in a tight race with Memphis and Phoenix for the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference playoffs.
Dirk Nowitzki scored at will (27 points on 11-for-14 shooting) and backup center Brandan Wright crushed the Lakers with 23 points on 10-for-10 shooting.
Nowitzki is now 11th in career points with 26,778, overtaking Dominique Wilkins.
Now they're one loss from tying the team record for most defeats since moving to Los Angeles in 1960.
Twitter: @Mike_BresnahanCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun