Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni has received plenty of criticism (some deserved, some undeserved) over the past couple months. To his credit, although he was handed a star-studded roster, that roster has been asterisked with injury clauses and complications. After back to back wins, D’Antoni and the Lakers are slowly putting the pieces together, and the Lakers will have one more piece to add to that puzzle Tuesday night, Steve Blake.
“I’m cleared to play. I’m ready to go. I’m not 100% or pain free. I think everyone’s got some issues right now.”
Having Blake in the rotation will be another first for D’Antoni, as Blake has been sidelined since the beginning of November with an abdomen injury. But, once again, there’s another asterisk for D’Antoni; he’ll have another player out on the court that is still not 100%. Thus, as D’Antoni told reporters at practice today, his minutes will be “limited,” as they ease him back into the rotation. Before ranking his cardio at a “7” on a scale of 1-10, Blake also revealed that tomorrow night will really be his first time playing 5-on-5 in three months.
“I still haven’t really played 5-on-5 yet in three months…my games are almost my practice too…I’ve been running and pushing myself but game condition is very different. I don’t know how many minutes ill be able to go or how much he’ll ask of me to do but ill always be ready to pursue it.”
Blake did mention that he is very much looking forward to playing alongside Pau Gasol. Pau Gasol’s recent adjustment to coming off the bench has certainly taken a mental toll on the 7-footer, but he’s responded well and his teammates have noticed.
“I know he still wants to be a starter and be a star out there but for me as a point guard coming off the bench, I can’t wait to have someone like him playing with me out there.”
Remember, Steve Blake has still yet to play in D’Antoni’s system (whatever system, or ‘non-system’ that might be at the moment). He was injured at the beginning of November, before D’Antoni was hired as head coach. D’Antoni has shared multiple times that he’s made an effort over the last ten years to recruit Blake. Now, with the D’Antoni system changing almost game by game and moving farther away from the run-and-gun, it will be interesting to see how Blake fits in. Blake says his biggest challenge will be running the sets on the floor.
“Just spacing of the floor, how the pick n rolls are set differently, the different sets …It’s one thing to know the sets in your mind and just watching it on the sideline but actually being on the floor running it, is totally different.”
The Lakers will take on the New Orleans Hornets Tuesday night at 7:30pm. It’ll be interesting to see how Steve Blake fits into the ever-evolving system.
VIDEO: Steve Blake talks about coming back from his injury after practice today