Dennis Schroder’s ups and downs exhausted the Los Angeles Lakers with an improbable victory
LOS ANGELES — There are three starters to go lebron james, Anthony Davis i Lonnie Walker enter the game and see a fourth player, Troy Brown Jr., exits early due to left quad strain, Los Angeles Lakers Coach Darvin Ham felt the need to protect Dennis Schroder of himself after the point guard rolled his right ankle midway through the fourth quarter Wednesday.
“He got in the huddle and I said, ‘Man, if I see you limp, I’m going to take you out,'” Ham said, describing the Lakers’ timeout with 5:41 left in the fourth quarter, trailing by Miami Heat for three “He said, ‘No. Leave me in the game. I’ll be fine, Coach. I’m fine.’
“I said, ‘Well, be good.’ And then he said, ‘I’m not going to be good, I’m going to be great.’ Those were his exact words to me.”
Schroder stayed in the game, working through the pain from stepping Bam AdebayoThe foot of ‘, and he approached the free throw line to immediately drain two free throws, reducing the deficit of the Lakers to one point. One possession later, he hit a 3 from the corner to put LA up by two.
The Lakers were not ahead again, winning 112-109. Schroder led the team with a season-high 32 points, along with four rebounds and four steals.
“I just try to be there for my teammates,” Schroder said. “I felt great afterwards [turning it]. Of course it hurt and hurt. But I know my limits.”
Ham, who was an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks when Schroder entered the league as a rookie, he credited the veteran guard with eliminating him.
“A lot of times when your adrenaline is going up like that, you don’t feel it,” Ham said. “But I’m sure later tonight or in the morning, he’ll feel it. The kid is just a fireball of a competitor. And he showed it tonight.”
The win moved LA to 4-1 in its last five games and 5-5 overall since Davis left the lineup with a fractured bone spur and a stress reaction in his right foot.
Schroder was one of several Lakers with whom he had strong nights Thomas Bryant (21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, 9 rebounds), Russell Westbrook (21 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, 3 steals), Austin Reaves (11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) i Dear Gabriel (10 points on 4-of-6 shooting) also contributing.
“I just think different guys are adjusting to their roles, getting more comfortable with more reps, more minutes,” Ham said. “When we get our big dogs back, whether it’s Bron, AD, both of them, Lonnie as well, it makes us a lot stronger, a lot deeper because now the guys have confidence. They have the utmost confidence because, ‘I got the reps.’
LA is now a game behind Utah Jazz for the 10th seed in the Western Conference, which could send the Lakers back to the playoffs via the final play-in spot.
While not nearly the mark of basketball that matches the 17 championships the franchise is known for, the stretch without Davis has shown that the Lakers had a relatively successful offseason when it came to making signing decisions, with Schroder , Bryant and Brown all finding consistent success despite only approaching minimum contracts.
Schroder, who is back with the Lakers in his second stint with the team, said Ham’s presence weighed heavily in his decision to return.
“It’s been 3-4 years talking, I don’t know [saying that] when he becomes a head coach, I want to be his PG,” Schroder said. “Trust me. I remember summer league my sophomore year, he was the head coach there and he let me be me.
“And right now, he tells me to be aggressive even when Bron and AD are there, Russ. ‘Be aggressive and do your shit.’ That’s what he always says. So, I’m going to keep being aggressive, I’m going to keep looking for my way and I’m going to yell at him that whatever he said before coming here, he lived up to it. So, I love him.”
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