Dennis Schroder lifts depleted Los Angeles Lakers to improbable win

Dennis Schroder lifts depleted Los Angeles Lakers to improbable win

LOS ANGELES — Already missing three starters in the game, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Lonnie Walker, and seeing a fourth, Troy Brown Jr., leave early with a left quad strain, Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham felt the need to protect Dennis Schroder from himself after the point guard rolled his right ankle midway through the fourth quarter on Wednesday.

“He got into 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 after Miami . Warm up with three. “He said: “No. Leave me in the game. I’ll be fine, coach. I am 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, braving the pain caused by Bam Adebayo’s footstep, and stepped to the free throw line to drain two straight free throws, cutting the Lakers’ deficit to one point. One possession later, he hit a 3 from the corner to put LA up by two.

The Lakers never trailed, 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 very good afterwards [turning it]. Of course it was 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, credited the veteran guard for leaving.

“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 broken bone and stress reaction in his right foot.

Schroder was one of several Lakers to have strong nights, with Thomas Bryant (21 points on 9-for-11 shooting, 9 rebounds), Russell Westbrook (21 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, 3 steals), Austin Reaves (11 points , 5 rebounds, 3 assists) and Wenyen Gabriel (10 points on 4-for-6 shooting) also contributing.

“I think different guys are settling into 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 coming back, Lonnie too, it just makes us a lot stronger, a lot deeper because now the guys have confidence. They have the ultimate confidence because they” I got the reps. “

LA is now one game behind Utah for the 10th seed in the Western Conference, which could push the Lakers back into the playoffs for the final play-in spot.

While not the brand of basketball to match the 17 championships the franchise is known for, the stretch without Davis has shown the Lakers had a relatively successful offseason when it comes to signing decisions, with Schroder, Bryant and Brown all finding success. continuous despite only being bound by 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.

“We have been talking for 3-4 years, I don’t know [saying that] when he becomes a coach, I want to be his coach,” Schroder said. “He trusts me. I remember the second year of Summer League, he was the head coach there and he let me be me.

“And now, he keeps telling me to be aggressive even when Bron and AD are around, Russ. ‘Be aggressive and do s—n.’ That’s what he always says. So I’m going to continue to be aggressive, I’m going to keep finding my way and I have to shout out to him that whatever he said before I came here, he lived it. So I love him.”

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