Lakers reserve point guard Steve Blake is averaging 6.1 points and 3.8 assists… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)
With Steve Nash hampered by a strained hamstring, the Lakers will need veteran point guard Steve Blake to help keep the team afloat through the final eight games.
Nash hopes to play but on Saturday he didn't get through two minutes before he asked Coach Mike D'Antoni to take him out.
Blake missed much of the season with an abdominal tear, which required surgery. He's played in 37 games, averaging 6.1 points and 3.8 assists.
When Blake has his jumper working, like he did in the recent victory over the Sacramento Kings when he made five three-pointers, the Lakers are harder to contain.
In the 22 games the Lakers have won with Blake in the lineup, the 10th-year guard has averaged 6.6 points and 4.3 assists a game while shooting 43.6% from the field and 44.6% from three-point range. In losses, his numbers dip to 5.4 points and 3.1 assists while shooting 40% and 39.5%, respectively.
The bigger concern is if Nash sits out. Blake has significantly lower percentages as a starter in five games, shooting 32.1% and 38.9%, respectively.
D'Antoni has looked to use Blake not only as the point guard off the bench but at shooting guard playing next to Nash.
The Lakers' record with Blake in the lineup is 22-15, significantly better than the team's 38-36 overall mark for the season.
With Nash hobbled, Blake becomes even more important with the Lakers currently in ninth place in the Western Conference behind the Utah Jazz (38-36) by virtue of the tiebreaker.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.