On Thursday afternoon, we learned that Steve Blake will miss at least six weeks with a torn elbow ligament, joining already-injured point guards Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) and Jordan Farmar (torn hamstring) on the inactive list.
Mike D’Antoni was asked after Thursday’s practice if he’s ever seen a team with so many injuries at one position.
“Yeah, last year,” he said, pointing to a 2012-13 campaign in which he inherited a team without both Blake and Nash. “We’ve really had (many) good point guards, but the problem is (they) have been hurt for two years in a row. We’ll lick our wounds today, but tomorrow, we have to come out. Somebody else will have a great opportunity to step up, play more and get it done.”
Last season, Darius Morris and Chris Duhon* got some minutes at point, but Kobe Bryant ended up doing much of the playmaking, and that’s what we’ll likely see again with the following starting line up: Jodie Meeks, Bryant, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol.
*Neither player is currently on an NBA roster.
Just two games into his own comeback from (a major) injury, Bryant’s going to have to be up for increased responsibility.
“I don’t really have much of a choice right now,” he said. “I got to get out there and do a lot more than expected in terms of handling the ball and doing significantly more running.
“We have guys that can hopefully bring the ball up and just get us into some stuff and then save my legs a little bit by having me play from the elbow and from the post a lot more and being on top of the floor running screen and roll actions.”
D’Antoni expects Xavier Henry to continue the role he’s taken since Farmar went down of initiating the offense with a second unit that will likely include Nick Young, Shawne Williams, Robert Sacre and one of the starters. The only other healthy body right now belongs to rookie Ryan Kelly, who’s yet to crack any regular rotation minutes.
Nash’s return date is unknown; he’s heading back to Vancouver to work with his personal trainer/therapist while the team is away on the road trip, and is expected to rejoin his teammates subsequently.
Farmar is the closest of the point guards to a return, said D’Antoni, and he’s in line for the most playing time of his career once he’s medically cleared. The UCLA product and L.A. native is going on the team’s four-game road trip (Dec. 13-17) to continue to rehabilitate, and will be re-evaluated upon the team’s return to Los Angeles.
On Thursday, Farmar lingered after practice to work on his shot, and told me he’s already feeling much better. The tightness he’d been feeling in what was a very small tear of his left hamstring has gone away, though he conceded that he’s yet to do anything that might irritate the injury, like sprinting.
Until he’s ready, it’s going to be a big, unique line up for Los Angeles. Stay tuned.