Mike D’Antoni: “Possible” Steve Blake will return Tuesday

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Assuming Steve Blake successfully goes through practice on Monday, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he will return when the team hosts the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

The Lakers’ backcourt will still remain incomplete. Steve Nash will have his fractured left leg reevaluated on Monday, and the 38-year-old guard revealed he has yet to perform any running exercises. Still, D’Antoni has sounded highly complimentary of Blake, revealing in his introductory press conference last week that he had hoped to coach him for the past 10 years.

“He’ll pick it up real easy,” D’Antoni said regarding his offensive system. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Blake has missed the past five games since worsening a lower abdominal strain Dec. 11 against Sacramento. Blake has said he first felt pain when the Lakers played the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 4, only the third game of the season, but appeared in three more games afterwards. Blake has averaged 5.1 points on 35.3 percent shooting in 26 minutes.

D’Antoni envisions Blake’s streaky three-point shooting to improve since his offense opens up more shots for role players.

Said D’Antoni: “I’ve always liked his game.”

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