Lakers’ Steve Blake has renewed confidence
Steve Blake is making more shots in part because the misses no longer bother him as much.
“Being with these guys for a while,” the veteran guard said of his Lakers teammates, “when you miss a shot you’re not as hard on yourself anymore.”
There was no need for self-doubt Wednesday night at Staples Center after Blake capped a strong preseason with some steady shooting during his team’s 108-103 loss to the Clippers.
Blake made six of nine shots, including five of seven three-pointers, on the way to 20 points. In two exhibition games, he made six of 10 (60%) of his three-pointers.
That’s a significant improvement for a player who made 37.8% of his shots from beyond the arc in his debut season with the Lakers, his worst percentage in four years. Blake credited a heightened comfort level for his shooting surge, something he rarely experienced while switching teams six times during his first seven NBA seasons.
Of course, all that movement qualifies his second year with the Lakers as an extended stay.
“When you go to a new group of guys you’re always trying to prove yourself or learning a new system, so you’re always thinking a lot instead of just reacting, which is a little bit of what we’re doing as a team right now,” Blake said. “We’re thinking because everything is so new. But once you figure it out, you get comfortable and you start playing better.”
Blake was alluding to the Lakers learning new offensive and defensive schemes under first-year Coach Mike Brown. The guard said he observed improvement from the team’s first exhibition game to its second, particularly on defense.
Blake came off the bench Wednesday as Derek Fisher, who sat out the exhibition opener while continuing to round into basketball shape, had seven points and eight assists in 24 minutes during his preseason debut.
The Lakers made 12 of 24 three-pointers overall, including six during a fourth-quarter rally in which they pulled to within three points of the Clippers in the final minutes.
“If we’re shooting the ball well from the outside, whether it’s me or Derek or whoever, it opens up the paint for the big guys,” Blake said. “They can’t really double as much and then we can really use our size to our advantage. So if we can continue to shoot the ball really well, it will help our bigs down low.”
Blake recently lamented his inconsistency during last season, when he averaged only four points per game. What does he have to do to become a more dependable player?
“Stay confident, keep shooting,” he said.
Make or miss, it’s a lot easier to do now.
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