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Steve Blake expected to sit out three to four weeks

January 13, 2012 |  9:56 pm

Steve-blake_300Lakers reserve guard Steve Blake is expected to remain sidelined for three to four weeks because of  fractured cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum.

Should that timetable hold up, Blake would miss between 11 and 17 games. He could return as early as Feb. 3 at Denver.

The team indicated Blake suffered the injury Tuesday during a 99-83 victory over the Phoenix Suns, but Blake said Friday morning after a shoot-around he couldn't recall a specific play that made him feel sore after the game.

Blake aggravated the injury Wednesday during a 90-87 overtime victory at Utah after making an awkward twist late in the third quarter. He left that game with 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter and Lakers trainer Gary Vitti tended to him on the sideline. Although Blake returned to the bench, he didn't play the rest of the game.

"It's sore," Blake said. "It's about the same as it was. Everyday-life stuff hurts. Breathing, throwing, anything like that."

Blake's absence severely hurts the Lakers' backcourt. He has averaged 7.3 points on 40.2% shooting and has often eaten into Derek Fisher's playing time, as the Lakers' starting point guard has struggled with his shooting and conditioning. Rookie point guard Darius Morris played in his first NBA game against Utah, posting four points with two assists and two turnovers in 13 minutes, an effort Coach Mike Brown called a "nice job." Brown said he'll plan to increase playing time for both Fisher and Morris, but said the minutes will hinge on their performance. 


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Photo: Lakers point guard Steve Blake is examined by trainer Gary Vitti after injuring his rib cage during a game against Utah on Wednesday night. Credit: George Frey / EPA