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A great day to be Lakers guard Steve Blake

He comes through with 18 points and seven assists against the Pacers. And his alma mater Maryland upsets Duke.

March 16, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan

INDIANAPOLIS — Steve Blake had one thing on his mind.

"Duhon!" he yelled through a giddy Lakers locker room, craning his neck. "Where's Duhon?"

College ties were still binding Blake, a Maryland grad who wanted to rub it in that his Terrapins beat Chris Duhon's Duke in the ACC tournament Friday.

Other people in the locker room wanted to know about a different game. The one Blake just played.

He had a season-high 18 points and added seven assists in the Lakers' 99-93 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Feisty on the court? Yes, as usual, though he also made five of seven three-point attempts, the reason so many reporters wanted to talk to him.

"It was just one of those nights," Blake said. "Everything felt really good. It was a fun night to be out there."

Blake played 35 minutes, forced into more action after Kobe Bryant sat out the final three quarters because of swelling in a severely sprained ankle.

"We have so much respect for Kobe giving us his effort, but we knew once he went out it would take all of us to step up," Blake said. "It's a great feeling when you can do that as a team, really get a big win."

Blake had four steals and two blocked shots, the latter matching his total over the last 20 games.

"Steve Blake was unbelievable. If you watch him, it was like a clinic," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said, adding that Blake "puts his nose in everywhere."

D'Antoni mentioned Blake earlier this week in a doesn't-get-enough-respect way.

"We don't talk about him much," D'Antoni said. "But he's anchored that second group."

Bryant knows that Blake's averages aren't great. He's 10th on the team in scoring average (5.3 points) and third in assists (3.9).

"He's a competitor. That's really what you've got to judge players by," he said. "A lot of times, we get caught up in their numbers and what their statistics are, but really you've got to look at the core of a player. He hates to lose. He loves competition."

Blake didn't love Duhon, though.

"He took off," he said. "But I'm going to find him."

Howard and fans

It's the game within the game.

If the Lakers are on the road, Dwight Howard loves to engage in trash-talking with fans in courtside seats of hostile arenas.

Friday was no different.

This time, fans got on him for his foul trouble when he went to the bench with 7:44 left in the first quarter.

Howard remembered.

As the Lakers started pulling away from the Pacers in the second quarter, he walked toward the fans during a timeout and gently brushed a towel over his rear end.

Howard said he gets insulted on the road "every game."

"I'm just having fun with them. I love interacting. It gets me going," he said. "They're going to talk and say whatever they're going to say, but their job is to help their team win."

Whether in Orlando or Indianapolis or Portland, the same taunts are used, Howard said.

"It's always like, 'You suck. You can't make a free throw.' There's stuff we're always going to hear."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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