Sprung: How the Lakers are surviving without Kobe and Nash

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BROOKLYN – How many NBA teams could survive the loss of their starting backcourt for nearly a quarter of the season? How many NBA teams could survive that loss when those two players are future Hall of Famers like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash?

SteveBlakeNashSH1Through 17 games, you can count the upstart Los Angeles Lakers among those teams. Thanks to an unlikely effective backcourt rotation quartet of Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar and Nick Young, the Lakers are 9-8 and hanging around a ruthlessly tough Western Conference.

Would Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni have taken this start knowing Bryant wouldn’t have played a single minute?

“I would have taken it,” he said. “I love this group of guys, they’re playing as hard as they can play and they play well.”

The Lakers didn’t have it easy Wednesday night in Brooklyn but held on for a 99-94 win after blowing a 27-point lead.

Blake nearly had a double-double with nine points and 10 assists and fellow starter Meeks scored 11. But it was the bench backcourt of Farmar and Young that provided Los Angeles with critical offense. Young scored 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-6 3-pointers, while Farmar was 5-for-7 from deep, with four of those makes coming in the first half.

Replacing a two-time MVP in Nash is no easy task, but Blake is having a career season thus far stepping into the pressure-packed role of a starting Lakers point guard, playing strong defense, shooting the ball well and leading his teammates into easy baskets.

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D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense has given Blake more of an opportunity to not only distribute but to get open looks all over the floor, leading to a career-best shooting percentage from the arc.

“He’s a pass-first point guard, but he could also score,” Meeks said. “I’m glad to be alongside with him on the backcourt. He helps me a lot to get easy points.”

Blake is playing the second-most minutes per game in his career – his career high came five years ago with Portland – and is still playing his most efficient basketball on both ends of the floor under D’Antoni.

“I’ve always liked him,” D’Antoni said. “He hardly makes mistakes defensively, he’s always in the right position. Now I think he has his confidence. I’ll take him any day. I think he can play.”

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  1. […] News & Notes -Despite being without Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, the Lakers are 9-8 and are currently holding on to a Western Conference playoff spot at this early juncture. How the hell are they doing that? […]

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