Steve Blake and Matt Barnes' absences are surprises; Trey Johnson joins the Lakers
Steve Blake's absence for the Lakers' game tonight against San Antonio came unexpected because it's unusual for an adult to get the chickenpox.
"We haven't gone through the team yet and checked," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "But we'll be going through the players and find out."
Lamar Odom, Luke Walton and Jackson said they had chickenpox when they were children, and Andrew Bynum said he's yet to have it. Jackson said he expects Blake will miss the last two games of the season and possibly return for the playoffs. Meanwhile, Kristen Blake, Steve's wife, tweeted: "And before anyone asks NO my kids didn't give it to him. They were vaccinated and are healthy. No clue where or how Steve got chicken pox."
There's problems beyond Blake's absence.
Matt Barnes is not expected to not play against the Spurs, something the Lakers weren't prepared for. The pain in his surgically repaired right knee only spurred this morning.
"I tried to straighten my knee out and I felt a sharp pain in the back of my knee," said Barnes, who made Tuesday morning's shoot around but struggled through it. "I didn't think much of it when I woke up. But I couldn't really move."
The Lakers have enough "anxiety," the temperament Jackson said his team currently has as it enters the second-to-last game of the regular season a half game behind the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 2 seeding in the Western Conference. On top of that, the Lakers must find a way to fill a depleted backcourt. They're bringing in Trey Johnson from the Bakersfield in the Development League, but he won't be available until Wednesday at Sacramento. Jackson also plans to increase Shannon Brown's role and play Odom partly at the guard position, while Ron Artest and Luke Walton are expected to play more minutes at small forward.
Jackson initially planned to have Artest guard Manu Ginobili, but Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich told reporters Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan will sit out since the No. 1 seeding is locked up.
The Lakers' position is not so definitive, as Jackson acknowledged he's "concerned" with the team's five-game losing streak.
"We'd like to win out both tonight and tomorrow," Jackson said. "I think more than anything else, we'd like to have home-court advantage."
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Photo: (left) Steve Blake. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times. (right) Matt Barnes. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times