Steve Blake to sit out against Houston, Darius Morris to start at point guard

EL SEGUNDO — Lakers guard Steve Blake will sit out tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets, marking his third consecutive game he’s missed since worsening a lower abdominal strain.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he hasn’t talked to trainer Gary Vitti about Blake’s progression, but ruled him out simply because he hadn’t practiced since the injury kept him sidelined during the Lakers’ win last week against Sacramento.

“We have to be cautious with that,” D’Antoni said. “It would be crazy to screw that up.”

Meanwhile, second-year point guard Darius Morris will receive the starting nod for the third consecutive game. Apologies to Chris Duhon, but even his past experience playing for D’Antoni with the New York Knicks won’t propel him in the pecking order above Morris.

D’Antoni eagerly awaits his reunion with Steve Nash, who’s expected at least to miss at least four more games because of the sore fracture in his left leg. D’Antoni also touted Blake as a perfect candidate in his system. But the new Lakers coach also raved about Morris’ length, playmaking abilities and defense.

“I think he runs the team well with the pick-and-roll,” D’Antoni said of Duhon. “But I do want Darius to develop even when the two Steves come back. He has good size and can play at the 2. He needs to keep developing his game.”

Morris has averaged 5.6 points on 35 percent shooting in 20 minutes, but has appeared more comfortable this season in striking a better balance between using his quickness and settling into the offense.

“I told him he would,” D’Antoni said regarding whether Morris would play when Nash and Blake return. “I hope so. Now it depends a little bit on him. But that would be the plan.”

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