Steve Nash and Pau Gasol both took part in the Lakers’ short practice Monday, which not only lifted the team’s spirits and but raised hopes that brighter days lay ahead.

Nash, who has not played since suffering a fractured left leg in the second game of the season, said he could be back by Christmas, while Gasol, who missed eight games because of tendinitis in his knees, could return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday against the Charlotte Bobcats. Gasol is considered a game-time decision.

“To be fair, I’m starting to get excited just because I’m able to do some things,” said Nash, who tested his stamina in running drills. “The majority of the last six weeks I’ve been inactive, so its nice to be able to get out there with the guys and see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

– Reported by Janis Carr of the Orange County Register