Steve Blake had arguably his best performance in a Laker uniform on Friday night in their win against the Indiana Pacers. Going into the game on Friday, the Lakers faced a tough challenge, not just because the Pacers are the second best team in the East (record-wise), but because the idea of having a limited Kobe Bryant was staring the team in the face as well.[GET $5 FREE WHEN YOU ENTER EARLY FOR SPORTSBOOK’S $100,000 BRACKET CHALLENGE]
Even though Bryant suited up and gave it a go, which Blake was inspired by, some pain is too much for even the Mamba to handle. Kobe did not return to the game after the first quarter. Being without the 17 year veteran, the Lakers team were handed an opportunity to show the improvement they have made over the past few weeks. They did exactly that on Friday night, as they won as a team.
Blake was remarkable against the Pacers, posting 18 points, seven assists, six rebounds, four steals and even two blocks. Talk about an all-around game. While Blake’s stats were great for the backup point guard, Kobe Bryant remarked after the game (per ESPNLA’s Dave McMenamin) that it’s a certain characteristic that he admires about Blake.
“He’s a competitor,” Bryant said after Blake had 18 points and seven assists, playing an integral part in the Lakers’ win over the Pacers on Friday with Bryant sidelined. “That’s really what you got to judge players by. A lot of times we get caught up in the numbers and what the statistics are, but really you got to look at the core of a player and what he is. He’s a competitor, he hates to lose, he loves competition so you know in those moments, he’ll step up more than not.”
Being without a franchise player and a superstar like Bryant on the floor, could make or break a team. It all comes down to whether or not the team chooses to rise to the challenge and leave their imprint on the game.
In other words, the team must remain as a group of competitors. Kobe Bryant is arguably the biggest competitor in the game today, and has been for awhile. Therefore, these are huge words coming from the Mamba regarding Blake. The Lakers looks to remain competitive as they face the Sacramento Kings in LA next on Sunday.