The moment Steve Blake’s potential game-winning shot hit off the rim, various reactions ensued.
Once the Lakers’ 77-75 Game 2 loss Wednesday to the Oklahoma City Thunder became official, Kobe Bryant looked frustrated Metta World Peace didn’t pass him the ball. Most other teammates walked off the court with a solemn expression. Andrew Bynum, for some reason, left with a smile on his face.
But there was one particular reaction that struck Blake the most. It went beyond any disappointment for missing the final shot, lamenting the Lakers blowing a seven-point lead or assessing their chances of overcoming a 0-2 deficit. Various fans sent messages to the Twitter account of Kristen Blake, Steve’s wife, filled with profanity-laced death threats toward the Lakers’ guard and his family.
“It’s pretty disappointing that there’s a lot of hateful people out there,” Blake said after the Lakers’ practice Thursday at the team’s facility in El Segundo. “You move on. I just don’t appreciate it when it’s toward my family. You can come at me all you want. But when you say things about my wife and my kids, it makes me upset.”
The messages were so overwhelming that Blake’s wife indicated in a tweet that she blocked over 500 followers.
“I didn’t see it,” Blake said. “She told me about it. That’s why I don’t look at that crap. I just let it be.”
As for the Lakers, they’re hardly sweating the missed final play. Coach Mike Brown said the original play involved Bryant cutting way from the ball on the flair screen, but correcting his initial assessment that Bryant was “wide open” by acknowedging he wasn’t. Bryant, who acknowledged he wished he would’ve attempted the final shot, echoed Brown’s support for World Peace’s passing to Blake.
“Nobody else was open,” World Peace said. “Steve was the only one open. Rather than turn it over, you throw to the open guy.”
Though Blake shot only 35.9% this season from the field, he became a key role player on the Lakers’ bench this postseason, making critical shots in three of the Lakers’ four victories in their first-round series against Denver. Blake nailed three consecutive three-pointers in Game 1, iced the game with a three-pointer in Game 4 and scored a playoff career-high 19 points in Game 7.
Blake has only averaged 2.5 points on 16.7% shooting in 23 minutes through two games in the Lakers’ Western Conference semifinals series against the Thunder. But both Brown, Bryant, World Peace and Bynum publicly supported Blake taking the final shot, an example of Blake classifying his teammates’ reaction toward the missed shot as “very supportive.”
“Steve made a big shot in Denver and everyone praised him,” World Peace said. “It would’ve been good to see him make that shot.”
Instead, Blake and his family had to deal with fan criticism that went beyond basketball.
“I would’ve been disappointed in the loss whether I took the shot or not,” Blake said. “Of course I wanted to make it and do that for my teammates and my coaches. But it didn’t happen. I’ll make up for it in the next games to come.”