Plenty of disappointment surrounds Steve Blake.
His first three seasons with the Lakers has coincided with early playoff exits. In what marked his most productive year with the Lakers, Blake’s otherwise successful season ended with a strained right hamstring that kept him out of the team’s Game 3 and 4 losses in their first-round defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.
But there appears to be a silver lining as Blake heads into the offseason. He doesn’t believe his injury to be serious.
“There’s no surgery at all,” Blake said. “It’s just time. Probably in two or three weeks, I’ll be back to normal and start to strengthen it again.”
Blake hardly felt that way when he suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ Game 2 loss last week in San Antonio.
“I knew it was pretty bad,” Blake said. “When I first did it, it was real painful. Then I ran back on defense and tried to make a couple of moves. That was hurting pretty badly. When I got back in the locker room, I knew. It was an emotional time for me. I knew how it was. It wasn’t one of those things where I could play through it. I kind of knew right away.”
It hardly helped that the Lakers nursed injuries to Kobe Bryant (torn left Achilles’ tendon) while Steve Nash (sore right hamstring) and Metta World Peace (surgically repaired left knee) remained extremely limited.
Blake had helped make up for some of those limitations.
He averaged 7.3 points on 42.2 percent shooting from three-point range and 3.8 assists per game. While Steve Nash nursed a sore right hip and sore right hamstring through eight games in April, Blake started at point guard and averaged 12.6 points on 40.7 percent shooting with 8.3 assists. In the two playoff games before injuring his hamstring, Blake averaged 14 points.
Not bad for someone who missed 37 games because of a lower abdominal strain that required surgery.
“I got to show some of the abilities I haven’t shown while I was here,” Blake said. “There’s so much talent here that there’s not a lot of shots to go around. The opportunity with Kobe going out and Nash being hurt, someone has to take those shots and be ready to step up. That’s what I tried to do in helping the team in that way not for myself but helping the team and adding some scoring.”
It also helped that Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has often gushed about Blake serving as a perfect fit for his system because of his playmaking, aggressiveness and team-first mindset.
“I felt like I fit in well into his system,” Blake said. “He wanted me to play in it. I always watched Phoenix and watched Steve [Nash] in how he operates in that system. It’d be fun to play in. It’s not only the system but he allows you to go out and play and make mistakes and take shots. Even if you miss, you can keep playing. That gives you confidence. I think that helped me out a lot.”
Such success only made it more difficult for Blake to stomach a major injury and an early playoff exit.
“It’s very frustrating,” Blake said. “That’s one of the main reasons I came here. I wanted to win a championship. My experience here has been great. We haven’t finished the years the way I’d like to finish. But I love it here in LA and I love my teammates. It’s only been frustrating right when you lose. Other than that, it’s been great.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org