Steve Blake to remain starter
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers might have traded for Ramon Sessions with the intention of him replacing Derek Fisher, but that doesn't mean Sessions will replace Fisher's spot in the starting lineup just yet.
Steve Blake started at point guard Friday in the Lakers' 97-92 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, finishing with zero points, six assists and zero turnovers in 29 minutes, while Sessions had seven points, five assists and three turnovers in 19 minutes.
"I don't want to guarantee anything or put anything in stone because I don't know if it's healthy to do that all the time," Lakers coach Mike Brown said following the team's film session and light voluntary practice on Saturday. "It's definitely Steve's job for the foreseeable future and it might be his job for the rest of the year. I don't know."
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Sessions, 25, averaged 10.5 points and 5.2 assists in 24.5 minutes per game this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Blake, 32, is averaging 5.5 points and 3.6 assists in 24.8 minutes per game this season for the Lakers.
Not only was Sessions already facing a steep learning curve to begin with as a point guard trying to learn the intricacies of a new offense, but he's doing it during a particularly busy stretch of the Lakers' schedule.
There is not a break in the schedule with consecutive days without a game until April 23-25, which are the three days leading up to the Lakers' regular-season finale on April 26 in Sacramento. Starting with Sunday's game against the Utah Jazz, the Lakers play 21 games in 36 days leading up to that break.
"The tough part about it, and everybody is going through it, is I don't know if we can have any more contact practices," Brown said. "You'd like to be able to have some contact practices so you can coach in that situation, but the reality of it is I don't know if we'll be able to afford to do that with the way our schedule is."
In order to get up to speed, Sessions spent more than an hour working with assistant coaches John Kuester, Chuck Person, Ettore Messina and Quin Snyder on Saturday after the players were released from their film meeting and free to go for the day.
"Running the defensive plays, learning the offensive plays," Sessions said. "Just getting the terminology down. Everybody kind of is similar in this league but it's just about the terminology, the sayings of what things are. Just getting it all that down."
Sessions wasn't done when he left the court, either. He had homework to be completed.
"I got film to take, I got a playbook to go home with, so, I got a lot of studying to do," Sessions said. "I thought college was over with, but I guess it's back."
Said Brown: "It's a process. It's not going to happen overnight. He's not going to be completely on the same page with us right now. But it's just like anything. He's new to the system, he's new to us, but thank goodness it seems like his basketball IQ is pretty high so it helps out a lot."
Coming off the bench isn't anything new for Sessions as he's been a substitute in 212 out of the 301 games he's played in his five-year career. He backed up Mo Williams in Milwaukee, Jonny Flynn and Luke Ridnour in Minnesota, and Baron Davis and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.
"I haven't even brought that up," Sessions said when asked if he's spoken to Brown about his potential as a starter. "It's not something I'm really worried about. Winning games is what I care about and what they brought me here for. Hey, if we keep winning, it really doesn't bother me at all."
He also hasn't been bothered by all the attention Lakers fans have given him since he arrived in L.A. on Thursday. Sessions said he went out to dinner at an L.A.-area restaurant on Friday after the Minnesota game and was approached by many well wishers who welcomed him to the Lakers. When he got back to his hotel, he was approached by more fans and posed for photographs with them in the lobby.
"It's been crazy," Sessions said. "I feel like I've played a whole season already."