The major difference between Games 1 and 2 of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round series against the Phoenix Suns was the aggression of the visitors. The Lakers immediately set the tone on both ends of the floor and while much of the attention went towards the team’s massive frontcourt, point guard Dennis Schroder deserves a ton of credit as well.
Schroder had his best game since returning to the Lakers after being in the NBA’s health and safety protocols as he finished with 24 points and three assists. He continually attacked the paint and made all six of his free throws as well in the Lakers’ 109-102 victory in Game 2 against the Suns.
For Schroder, the adjustment between the first two games was a simple one: be aggressive.
“After the first game I talked to coaches, watched film and they told me just to be aggressive,” Schroder said after the win. “So at the end of the day, I just did that, tried to be creative getting into the lane, just putting pressure on the rim and I think it worked out really well. AD was there sometimes for the dump off when the big man helped so yeah, just being aggressive.”
Penetrating in the paint is essential to the Lakers’ offense as they are an average-at-best 3-point shooting team. But attacking the rim allows for easy baskets and sets up more wide-open 3-point attempts and nobody is better at getting into the paint on this team than the lightning-fast Schroder.
Now Schroder wants the team to continue building on the aggression they showed in Game 2. “Yeah, whatever the game gives us, but at the end of the day, we got to be aggressive,” the Lakers point guard added. “Everybody’s got to be aggressive and me for sure, I got to hit the paint, can’t let nobody off the rope.
“I think I got to attack these guys and yeah just be aggressive, touch the paint and make a decision from there. If it’s scoring, if it’s passing, just get there and then make the right decision.”
Most important for Schroder going forward, however, is his health and getting back to 100% after his stint in the health and safety protocols. There tends to be lingering effects and it takes time for a player to get his conditioning right when he’s been in isolation. Schroder admits he’s still working his way back, but will continue to give the team maximum effort.
“Yeah, I feel fine. Still trying to get to my 100% but at the end of the day, we’re gonna give everything we have every game, all out on the floor and if I can’t be in the game anymore I’ll tell Coach to sub me out. But it didn’t get to that and we got the W, that’s the most important.”
Vogel praises Schroder’s performance
Schroder’s contributions did not go unnoticed by his head coach as Frank Vogel had a ton of praise for his point guard after a huge game that helped the Lakers even out their first-round series.
“Dennis, in particular, scoring the basketball, this is his best scoring night since he came back from the health and safety protocols,” Vogel said. “We knew it was gonna take a little time for him but he really carried some stretches of the game tonight.”
The Lakers basically had only four players contribute offensively and LeBron James and Anthony Davis can’t be on the floor at all times. The reason Schroder was brought to L.A. was to help ease the offensive burden off the team’s two stars and he did exactly that on this night.
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