Lakers laud Steve Blake’s toughness, professionalism

Lakers#5 Steve Blake is congratulated for a go-ahead 3 pointer late in the 4th quarter. The Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets in overtime 99-95 in the final home game of the year at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 4/17/2013(John McCoy/Staff Photographer

Lakers#5 Steve Blake is congratulated for a go-ahead 3 pointer late in the 4th quarter. The Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets in overtime 99-95 in the final home game of the year at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA 4/17/2013(John McCoy/Staff Photographer

A sense of sadness and gloom permeated the Lakers, and that happened well before Dwight Howard rubbed it in their face with an endless charade of dunks, blocks and athleticism.

Hours before their 134-108 loss Wednesday to the Houston Rockets became official, the Lakers learned they’d lose yet another key piece to their roster. And for once, it didn’t involve an injury.

The Lakers traded Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors for two young seldom-used point guards in Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, the first sign of a white flag in the team’s effort to rebuild and trim salary. Blake learned about the deal shortly after participating in pre-game warmups. Soon enough, Blake dressed back into street clothes and shared farewells with teammates, coaches and team officials before departing the arena.

“I was more disappointed that it was him,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “There were a lot of guys. Management has to do to retool. You have to do a lot of things. But you hate it for him.”

That’s because Blake provided everything that D’Antoni wants in his system. Blake relentlessly provides energy, hustling for looseballs, setting up teammates on pick-and-rolls and making outside shots with dependable accuracy. Despite appearing in only 27 games because of a hyperextended right elbow, Blake posted a dependable 9.5 points and 7.6 assists.

“He was a joy to coach,” D’Antoni said. “Every coach should have an opportunity to coach somebody like that. He is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever coached. He’s good. At any team that wants to win, he’ll be a nice piece.”

His four-year career with the Lakers entailed some tough moments, though. Blake admittedly felt tentative his first two years with the Lakers under Phil Jackson and Mike Brown in part because of their offense and adjusting to Kobe Bryant. He also had a slew of ailments. Blake suffered chicken pox in the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs. He sat out for 13 games the following season because of a fractured rib. Blake missed a combined 36 games last year because of overlapping injuries in his abdominal muscle and groins.

But Blake provided some signature moments, such as a 19-point effort in Game 7 of the Lakers’ first-round series win over the Denver Nuggets in 2012 and a game-winning 3-pointer in Houston in November in the Lakers’ first game against Howard since he left the team.

What will the Lakers miss the most?

“His professionalism and the way he plays the game,” Lakers guard Jodie Meeks said. “He knows the guard position. He plays through injury and sickness. We’ll miss him as a teammate. It’s the nature of the business. Sometimes that stuff happens.”

This happened because the Lakers are well aware of their doomed playoff fortunes this season. The move allowed them to save a $4 million in combined salary and luxury taxes. It’s possible Bazermore and/or Brooks could develop at a relatively cheaper price. But for a team that’s ailing so much with an injury-depleted backcourt, Blake’s departure provided one huge dent.

“He’s definitely a great guy and definitely a mentor and a great player and fun to talk to,” Lakers forward Jordan Hill said. “You can talk to him about anything and he’ll listen. He seems pretty quiet, but he’s a guy who will definitely make you laugh and put a smile on your face.”

When he stepped on the court, however, his personality changed.

“He’s a tough little small sucka, ain’t he?” Hill said, laughing. “Basketball wise, he’s somebody who competes, plays well and plays hard and tries to make the right play. He’s a tough guy and it’s good to have him out there to guard somebody bigger. He’ll scrap and fight for rebounds and do whatever he’s asked to do.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Steve Blake to play vs. Oklahoma City despite persisting elbow pain

Lakers' Steve Blake (5) moves the ball down court against the Jazz's Alec Burks (10) in a NBA Western Conference basketball game at the Staples Center Tuesday, February 11, 2014, Los Angeles, CA.  The Lakers lost 79-96. Los Angeles Lakers versus Utah Jazz. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Lakers’ Steve Blake (5) moves the ball down court against the Jazz’s Alec Burks (10) in a NBA Western Conference basketball game at the Staples Center Tuesday, February 11, 2014, Los Angeles, CA. The Lakers lost 79-96.
Los Angeles Lakers versus Utah Jazz.
Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Even with pain throbbing in his right elbow, Lakers guard Steve Blake said he will play tomorrow against Oklahoma City at Staples Center.

“For me unless if I was to get it checked out again and they told me something major was wrong, I’ll just push through it,” Blake said. “Individually, could I be selfish and sit out because I don’t want to have a bad shooting percentage? I guess I could do that, but that’s not the type of person I am. I just want to help the team out and try to get some wins.”

The Lakers are already nursing plenty of injuries to Kobe Bryant (left knee), Pau Gasol (right groin), Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back, hamstrings), Nick Young (left knee), Jordan Farmar (left hamstring), Jodie Meeks (right ankle) and Xavier Henry (right knee).

Still, Blake looked noticeably limited in the Lakers’ 96-79 loss Tuesday to the Utah Jazz where he shot only 2-of-11 from the field. That coincided with Blake feeling additional pain in his recently hyperextended right elbow in the second half after fighting through a screen. In the past five games since returning from his elbow injury, Blake has shot only 28.6 percent and reported feeling pain when he takes outside shots.

Will this force Blake to become more of a playmaker than a shooter?

“I kind of think I have to,” Blake said. “It’s not like I can’t make the shots. But it’s a little more difficult just with lack of being able to practice 3-point shots as much as I normally do. Maybe I’ll have to pick my spots a little more here or there. But it’s a work in progress. I’m four of five games back and still have to get my legs in a little bit better condition as well and arm strength a little bit more. There’s room for improvement. I just have to get there.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni expressed confidence that Blake will.

“He’s got to play and has to figure out what he can do and is comfortable with,” D’Antoni said. “He’s playing great. What he gives us in tenacity, ball pressure and intangibles, we don’t have anybody who is as good as he does.”

RELATED:

Steve Nash to sit out Thursday vs. Oklahoma City

Steve Blake reports more pain in his right elbow

Lakers expect Xavier Henry to sit out for another four weeks

Steve Nash leaves second half of Lakers’ 96-79 loss to Utah, sparking varying levels of concern

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Steve Blake reports more pain in his right elbow

Lakers' Steve Blake (5) passes under the basket under the Jazz's Enes Kanter (0) and Alec Burks (10) in a NBA Western Conference basketball game at the Staples Center Tuesday, February 11, 2014, Los Angeles, CA.  After a sizable lead, the Lakers trailed at halftime 48-37. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Lakers’ Steve Blake (5) passes under the basket under the Jazz’s Enes Kanter (0) and Alec Burks (10) in a NBA Western Conference basketball game at the Staples Center Tuesday, February 11, 2014, Los Angeles, CA. After a sizable lead, the Lakers trailed at halftime 48-37.
Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Long before everyone cleared off the court, Steve Blake sat motionless on the bench trying to process everything that happened.

The Lakers’ 96-79 loss Tuesday to the Utah Jazz marked yet another loss, one that plummeted them to the 14th place in the Western Conference. Steve Nash left early for two consecutive games after feeling more nerve irritation in his back. And Blake had just shot an uncharacteristic 2-of-11 from the field, partly after feeling more pain in his recently hyperextended right elbow.

“I was more just frustrated with myself, hoping that I can do more,” Blake said in a solemn tone afterwards. “I felt like this is a game we could’ve won, especially getting up early. Just disappointed. I try to think about what I can do better, take it in and go from there.”

It seems difficult, though.

Blake went to the sideline momentarily in the second half after getting caught on a screen and feeling further pain in his elbow. Lakers trainer Gary Vitti attended Blake, but as he said afterwards, “I wasn’t going to sit down. I had to play through it.” After all, the Lakers already nurse plenty of injuries to Kobe Bryant (left knee), Pau Gasol (right groin), Nick Young (left knee), Jordan Farmar (left hamstring), Jodie Meeks (right ankle) and Xavier Henry (right knee). Nash’s absence also left the Lakers with only Blake and Kendall Marshall manning the backcourt.

But the pain in Blake’s elbow bothers him so much that he revealed feeling hurts when he practices, notably when he’s fitting in outside shooting sessions to build his rhythm. It also partly explains why Blake’s shots fell short against Utah.

Blake vowed he will “have to mentally push through it.” But as he showed with his postgame demeanor, the obstacles appear overwhelming.

“I’m frustrated. I don’t like to lose,” Blake said. “It doesn’t matter who’s out there and who’s not. There’s no excuses. Just focus on myself right now. I have to make shots. It’s going to be tougher for me to do that, but I have to try to push through it and figure it out.”

RELATED:

Steve Nash leaves second half of Lakers’ 96-79 loss to Utah, sparking varying levels of concern

Steve Nash expresses optimism he can play Tuesday vs. Utah

Steve Nash — 40 and finally healthy — leads Lakers to win over 76ers

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Good chance of Steve Blake, Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar playing against Minnesota

The Lakers have a good chance of getting back three familiar faces on the court in guards Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Steve Nash when Los Angeles takes on Minnesota tomorrow.

“I think they are all ready to go, “said Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni after practice on Monday. “We’ll see how everybody wakes up, but there is a possibility that all three could play.”

Both Blake and Farmar said they felt good after practice, but would not give a definitive answer when asked if they would be playing tomorrow.

“We’ll see,” said Blake, whose right elbow was wrapped in ice when he addressed reporters. “I felt pretty good today in practice and I’ll see how I feel when I am when I wake up and go from there.”

“I’m not sure about tomorrow, we’ll see,” said Farmar. “I’m available if they allow me too, but I don’t know how they will work it out. Everyone is coming back at the same time so they are just trying to balance things out.”

All three guards returned to practice earlier in the week.

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Steve Blake preparing for multiple roles

Steve Blake does a public service announcement. The Los Angeles Lakers held a media day at their El Segundo practice facility. Players were photographed for team materials, and interviewed by the press. El Segundo, CA. 9/27/2013. photo by (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News

Steve Blake does a public service announcement. The Los Angeles Lakers held a media day at their El Segundo practice facility. Players were photographed for team materials, and interviewed by the press. El Segundo, CA. 9/27/2013. photo by (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News

Anytime the Lakers gather together to watch film, an image of Steve Blake often pops up on the television screen.

It shouldn’t be surprising considering Blake’s often performing what Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni describes as “multiple efforts.”

“He’s always the guy we show,” D’Antoni said. “His effort is off the charts.”

Blake’s team mindset, scrappiness and comfort level in both running pick-and-rolls and looking for his own shot under D’Antoni’s system will play a critical role heading into the 2013-14 season for multiple reasons. Uncertainty looms on when Kobe Bryant will fully heal from his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon. D’Antoni hopes to limit Steve Nash’s minutes at starting point guard in hopes of preserving the 39-year-old’s body. And with the Lakers acquiring Jordan Farmar this offseason, Blake will compete for minutes for plenty of scenarios.

“With coach’s system, you can play a lot of guards,” Blake said. “We’ll be rotating in and out a lot, especially myself going to the shooting guard some and point guard. I’m going to be prepared for that. Whatever they ask of me, I’ll be willing to do.”
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Mike D’Antoni views Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar as great guards for his system

Lakers #1 Jordan Farmar, #0 Nick Young and #5 Steve Blake enter the practice facility for media day. The Los Angeles Lakers held a media day at their El Segundo practice facility. Players were photographed for team materials, and interviewed by the press. El Segundo, CA. 9/27/2013. photo by (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers #1 Jordan Farmar, #0 Nick Young and #5 Steve Blake enter the practice facility for media day. The Los Angeles Lakers held a media day at their El Segundo practice facility. Players were photographed for team materials, and interviewed by the press. El Segundo, CA. 9/27/2013. photo by (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News)

Overlapping injuries to Steve Nash and Steve Blake left the Lakers last season seriously exposed in the backcourt.

Not anymore.

Nash and Blake have fully recovered. Meanwhile, the Lakers added Jordan Farmar this offseason three years after playing as a critical reserve in the Lakers’ back-to-back championship seasons (2009-10).

“There will be room for all three of them,” D’Antoni said.
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NBA2K14 simulation predicts Lakers will miss playoffs

An NBA2K14 simulation has the Lakers missing the NBA playoffs. Photo Credit: NBA2K

An NBA2K14 simulation has the Lakers missing the NBA playoffs. Photo Credit: NBA2K

Anxiousness awaits for the Lakers’ training camp, and for what?

Very few tab them as NBA championship favorites. Uncertainty lingers on how Kobe Bryant will look after he heals his left Achilles tendon. Skepticism persists over whether Mike D’Antoni can lead these Lakers through troubled times.

That’s perhaps why NBA2K14, a video game that prides itself on comprehensive player analysis and credible game simulations, tabs the Lakers this season failing to reach the playoffs and finishing with a 35-47 record. Granted, NBA2K13 rated last year’s Lakers as the NBA championship favorites, and we all know how that turned out. The NBA2K franchise also may do its own simulations before the Oct. 1 release. I received an advance copy and performed my own simulation.

But there’s plenty of reasons to feel skeptical about the Lakers. Dwight Howard bolted for the Houston Rockets. The Lakers lost their best defensive player in Metta World Peace for the sake of saving luxury taxes through the amnesty provision. The Lakers’ offseason additions in Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar bring some added speed and additional scoring. But on paper, it appears the Lakers don’t have enough defensively.

“This team just doesn’t have enough athleticism and speed to contend for a title,” said Clark Kellog, who offers analysis with Steve Kerr while Kevin Harlan serves as the play-by-play announcer for the NBA2K14 game.
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Lakers depth chart breakdown: Steve Blake

David Crane/Staff Photographer

David Crane/Staff Photographer

Below is the sixth in a series previewing the storylines surrounding each player on the Lakers’ roster for the 2013-14 season. This post focuses on Lakers backup point guard Steve Blake.

1. How healthy can Steve Blake stay? If this question seems to be repetitive regarding all the Lakers players, well it is. But it’s one that’s unavoidable. For Blake, he’s fully recovered from a right hamstring injury that sidelined him for Lakers’ Game 3 and 4 losses to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. But there’s weird pattern that’s developed in Blake’s three seasons with the Lakers where he just can’t stay healthy. Here’s the rundown: misses three games because of chicken pox at the end of the 2010-11 season; sits out for 13 games in the 2011-12 season because of fractured cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum; stays sidelined for 37 games because of a lower abdominal strain that required surgery overlapping with a groin injury.

These are all freakish injuries and the source of them all prove hard to trace. But it’s still fair to wonder why these weird incidents keep happening. To Blake’s credit, he’s maintained a positive and resilient attitude and hasn’t let these incidents affect his work ethic and aggressiveness on the court.

2. Blake should continue to thrive under Mike D’Antoni’s system. Once Blake finally became healthy last season, he fit everything D’Antoni envisioned under his offense. Blake displayed his love for having the ball in his hands by running a good mix of pick-and-rolls and post-ups at his discretion. This freedom sparked Blake’s aggressiveness, willingness to take open shots and create on his own, three traits admittedly struggled with during his first two seasons with the Lakers for reasons including Phil Jackson’s triangle offense and adapting to Kobe Bryant’s demand for the ball. When Blake played with the second unit, he helped push the pace, ensure great floor spacing and connect with Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks at opportune times.

Assuming he stays healthy, expect Blake to continue where he left off. D’Antoni’s system didn’t work well for Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol, but the offense worked perfectly for Blake because it fit his preferred style of play and gave him the confidence to play without any inhibitions.
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