With Steve Nash (root nerve irritation) and Jordan Farmar (hamstring) already nursing various ailments, Steve Blake was the latest in line to be hit with the injury bug. He was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after undergoing an MRI before Thursday’s practice, and is expected to be out a minimum of six weeks.
“I’m disappointed,” Blake said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s not something I wanted to go through right now, but crazy things happen. You have to try and stay positive. It’s a long season. I’ll eventually be back, and try to finish strong.”
Blake originally hurt the elbow in the second half of the team’s road contest at Washington on Nov. 26. In six games since, he was shooting just 34.6 percent field goals and 28.1 percent on three-pointers compared to 40.7 percent from the floor and 46.0 percent from the three-point line prior to injury.
“How tough is Steve Blake?,” Kobe Bryant said. “He’s played with it since D.C. He played phenomenally well with it. That’s incredible.”
Pau Gasol echoed similar sentiments.
“Playing through that elbow injury was incredible with what he’s been able to do,” he said. “He didn’t really take a practice off.”
On the year, Blake had been averaging a team-high 31.5 minutes, to go along with 9.8 points and 7.7 assists. He was shooting 40.0 percent from distance and ranked 20th in the league in three-point field goals made (40). The Maryland product had also recorded nine double-digit assist games, including a 16-assist outing against Detroit that tied his career-high.
“He’s worked so hard and he plays so hard,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It’s really a testament to his courage and toughness. He practiced left-handed, but then he would play right-handed. We’ll have to close ranks and get it done.”
More than just missing Blake orchestrating the offense, Bryant realizes they’ll miss his presence on the defensive side of the ball.
“Steve’s really tough, really tough,” Bryant said. “He’s really solid defensively. He does a great job of staying in front of point guards. We have some adjustments to make. We have our work cut out for us.”