Jerry West says Lakers will be 'dangerous' in playoffs

Reporting from Boston — Jerry West is plenty busy these days as a consultant for the Golden State Warriors and executive director of the Northern Trust Open, which tees off next Thursday at Riviera Country Club.

But he has also kept an eye on the Lakers, the franchise for which he became a Hall of Fame player and, later, general manager.

West conceded that many of the Lakers' performances had been "spotty" and "looked like exhibition games," but insisted there were better days ahead.

"The Lakers will be very dangerous in the playoffs," he said in a phone interview Thursday with The Times. "They need rest between games. The way they're playing now on the road, they haven't had the kind of success they need. But they're still very capable."

West was noncommittal when asked whether the Lakers should make a trade before the March 15 deadline.

"Knowing the Lakers, Mitch [Kupchak] and Jerry Buss and their desire to win," West said, "they'll pretty much look at anything that will help them win."

The question remains whether the Lakers can improve their bench, which West said was "usually what decides playoff series."

That's bad news for the Lakers, who haven't had much scoring punch from their reserves.

Even if the Lakers don't make moves, West stayed optimistic about their championship chances.

"Any time you have Kobe Bryant on your team, you're dangerous," West said. "They have two big guys who can dominate the paint and score around the paint.

"I would never, ever discount them. They're a very good team, regardless of what people might say."

Blake is back

Reserve guard Steve Blake had five points in almost 32 minutes Thursday against Boston, his first game in almost a month.

He played the entire overtime in place of Derek Fisher despite missing 13 games because of damaged cartilage in his rib area. Blake was the first reserve off the bench in the first quarter and made two of seven shots in the Lakers' 88-87 victory.

"The reality of it was when he was playing … a lot of times he would end games for us" on the court, Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "So I just figured, hey, he's back, we don't have time to mess around, I'm going to throw him out there and if he suffocates or something like that, runs out of breath, we've got a good trainer in Gary Vitti. He'll take care of him."

With Blake's return, rookie guard Andrew Goudelock had his time reduced to eight scoreless minutes. He missed both of his shots.

Rookie guard Darius Morris was put on the inactive list to make room for Blake.

Bresnahan reported from Boston and is a Times staff writer. Medina reported from Los Angeles and is a Times correspondent.

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