Steve Blake surprised about long-term injury
This remains uncharted territory for Lakers guard Steve Blake. He'd never suffered a rib injury, at least nothing serious enough to keep him sidelined. "I've taken shots in the ribs before," Blake said, "and I've never had a problem."
But now he has. The Lakers estimate that it will take three or four weeks for Blake to fully recover from fractured cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum -- a long way from the team's initial day-to-day prognosis and Blake's own expectation that he'd stay sidelined for only a week.
"I was surprised," said Blake, who, if the Lakers' timetable holds up, would miss from 11 to 17 games. "But you have to move on."
But that will be hard to do, with an injury that remains as unpredictable as the mystery surrounding how it worsened.
Blake said he felt his ribs hurting after the Lakers' 99-83 victory Tuesday over the Phoenix Suns, but that the pain soon wore off. He 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. The Lakers changed their evaluation from day-to-day to three to four weeks during the team's 97-92 victory Friday over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Blake says "the pain wouldn't stop me from playing," but also says the training staff has told him any slight contact could seriously jeopardize his recovery. In turn, Blake says his rehab entails only rest and icing and that he's been told there's nothing the Lakers' training staff can do to expedite that process.
"There's no secret ingredient to fixing it," said Blake, who has has averaged 7.3 points on 40.2% shooting through 12 games. "I wish when I'm in the training room, there's more I can do. But there really isn't. So that's a little frustrating. But every injury is different and you have to treat it differently."
So Blake is handling the injury as best he can. He appeared amused when a reporter relayed to him a tweet from Blake's wife, Kristen, about his three sons: "Woke up this morn to the the boys running down the hall "let's go see if daddy's rib is still sticking out!!" they're fascinated by it. lol"
Blake remains cautious about everyday activities: "If I lay on my left side, it's a little painful. When I take deep breaths or reaching down to do something with my kids, it's constantly a pain when you don't realize it will be a pain. It's one of those things you have to deal with."
And Blake has happily passed on advice and encouragement to rookie guard Darius Morris: "I think he's going to do great. He's played well already. When I see things out on the court, I'll tell him about it. He asks me questions as well. I'll share as much knowledge as I can. I hope he continues to have a lot of success. I'm happy he's getting his chance."
It's hardly the predicament Blake wants to face. Unfortunately for him and the Lakers, Blake has no other choice.
"That's all you can do," he said. "Just let it heal."
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Photo: Lakers guard Steve Blake is treated by trainer Gary Vitti after injuring his rib cage during a game Wednesday at Utah. Credit: George Frey / EPA