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NBA West: More Problems for the Lakers with Blake Out for Surgery and Kobe’s Rant

Expectations had been running high for the Los Angeles Lakers (8-9) when they assembled their elderly dream team this offseason. But at month No. 2,  between the team’s injuries and new coach, it’s already a frustrating season.

On Monday the team announced that backup point guard Steve Blake will have surgery and could be out until February. Steve Nash is still out with his injury and the face of the Lakers, Kobe Bryant, is so frustrated with his team, he publicly ranted about it after Sunday’s loss.

Blake to Undergo Surgery

Lakers guard Steve Blake

With an expectation his return was imminent, the L.A. Lakers quashed this on Monday with news that that Blake will undergo surgery on Wednesday for his torn abdominal muscle.

He is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

The procedure comes after Blake had initially been diagnosed on November 12 with an abdominal strain. To-date, he’s missed 10 games.

From his seven games of play (five starts), Blake averaged 5.1 points, 2.4 rounds, 3.4 assists, 1.29 steals over 26.0 minutes, according to a team press release.

In his absence, Darius Morris and Chris Duhon will pinch hit.

Bryant said of Blake’s absence via the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a big concern for me. Steve and I have always played extremely well together and he’s a clutch shooter and he’s a tough competitor. We’re going to be missing a lot with him being out.”

Joining Blake in recovery mode is Steve Nash. He’s still out from a leg fracture incurred at the start of the season. His return could be in the next week or two.

But in the short-term, the Lakers are lacking depth and sit in the third spot of the Pacific division with an 8-9 record. The team suffered a frustrating 113-103 home loss on Sunday against the Orlando Magic (6-10), angering Bryant. Their next three games are on the road beginning on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets (8-8).

The bettors see a slim win for the Lakers at -2 with a 213.5 over/under.

Bryant Rants About Team

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Always a serious competitor, Sunday’s loss caused Bryant to publicly rant about his team. He wants the players to get their act together.

Bryant said via Fox Sports, “I’ll kick everybody’s ass in this locker room if it doesn’t happen. It’s the attitude you have to have. Metta (World Peace) is the same way. Dwight (Howard) has it in him as well. Even though he smiles a lot, he cares a lot about this. Come hell or high water, this has to get done.”

But the player wasn’t done pointing fingers and then spoke about Pau Gasol. He’s been suffering from knee problems and has been known to mentally check out when not playing.

Gasol is averaging per game only 12.7 points and 8.9 rebounds.

Byrant had some advice for him, “Put your big-boy pants on. C’mon . . . just adjust. You can’t whine about it or complain about it. Heck, I’m 34 years old, and I’m running screen-and-rolls out there because Steve (Nash) is out, and my ass is running up and down the court more than I ever have in my entire career. But you have to adjust to it.

“I stay after practice and work on my ball-handling and screen-and-rolls, and when you have the talent to adjust to it, you just . . . have . . . to . . . adjust . . . to . . . it. Pau’s talented enough and good enough to be able to do that.”

Will Gasol see himself on the trading block? His playing time has declined under coach Mike D’Antoni (31.8 average minutes) and he’s shooting 39.3% from the field. He is also dealing with a new dynamic from the addition of Dwight Howard.

Should the team try to trade him, it will come at a hefty price: he’s owed $38 million over the next two seasons.

Bryant desperately wants a sixth ring but will this be the year? The odds are +450 to do so.



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