Lakers guard Steve Blake spent a few minutes with us following L.A.’s 114-106 road win in Phoenix, detailing what he thinks is leading to a terrific opening two contests from L.A.’s bench.
Blake struggled with his shot a game after hitting 3-of-4 threes, including the game winner, against Houston, but managed six points on 2-of-8 field goals with two assists and no turnovers in 19 minutes. Matt Barnes added 11 points — including three three-pointers, two of which came in the fourth quarter — and five rebounds with a steal in 18 minutes, while Shannon Brown contributed eight points and a swipe in 15 minutes.
Below is the transcript:
MT: Two games in, and it’s been clear how effective the bench has been. Phil Jackson mentioned after the game that he was particularly pleased with the second unit’s defense in the second half. Are you already feeling some collective confidence?
Blake: Yes, we’re feeling great out there together. We all know what we need to do is bring energy, be scrappy on defense and be ready to step up on offense if needed.
MT: Kobe Bryant has expressed his personal approval for the way that you and Barnes in particular don’t back down from anything, including him in seasons past. How would you describe your mindset?
Blake: Well, guys are going to go hard. We’re going to put it all out there, whether you like it or not. We’re going to come at you, and if you come at us, we’re not going to back down. It’s as simple as that. Kobe’s told me before that he respected that, and Matt’s the same kind of guy, and a lot of guys on this team are like that as well. At the same time, you see how approachable and close everybody is, trying to help each other on the floor and everything, so it’s a great feeling to be on the floor with guys like that.
MT: Perhaps by the end of the month, you could get Lamar Odom — arguably the league’s best player who’d come off the pine — to the second unit. What are your expectations for when Andrew Bynum returns?
Blake: Can you imagine Pau at the four? He’s so much bigger and so good that for him to be going against power forwards is going to be crazy. And I love making those passes up around the rim, so I’m looking forward to having Bynum go and get them.
MT: Finally, is there any consideration of the heavy minutes Gasol and Odom may have to play until Bynum returns? Both played 40 minutes tonight.
Blake: It’s basketball. When you step away from it, you say ‘Oh yeah,’ I’d like to have this many minutes.’ But during the game, you’re never thinking about that. You want to play the whole game. Everybody wants to play the whole game, no matter how tired or hurt you are. Guys aren’t thinking about that.