In what was a potential NBA Finals preview, the Los Angeles Lakers were unable to slow down the Brooklyn Nets in a 109-98 loss that was not as close as the final score may suggest.
LeBron James made history by reaching 35,000 career points, but he was unable to overcome a Nets team that shot a sizzling 18-of-39 from beyond the arc. Both teams were without a superstar as Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant sat out, but the Lakers learned before tipoff they wouldn’t have Dennis Schroder as well.
Schroder was a surprise scratch as he was held out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. “I heard about it right after I did media about an hour before the game. Obviously it had a great impact. He’s one of our best on-ball defenders,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said after the game.
“When you’re playing against a switch-everything defense, Dennis’ ability to break down his man and get in the paint is more needed against an opponent like this. We definitely missed him, but we had plenty of firepower to get the job done. We just didn’t play well enough.”
Schroder’s absence was clearly a blow to the Lakers, especially against a perimeter-oriented team like the Nets who have star ball-handlers in Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Schroder has been an integral point-of-attack defender, so it came as no surprise when Los Angeles struggled to contain Brooklyn’s dribble penetration.
When he’ll return is unclear. “I don’t know, to be honest. I don’t have an answer on that,” Vogel said. “I can’t say anything with clarity on how soon he’ll be back.”
The timing of Schroder’s leave could not come at a worse time as the team was already shorthanded with Davis out for the next few weeks. L.A. is also about to hit the toughest part of their schedule, which means they could take a hit in the standings if they are unable to make up for so much lost production.
Vogel was looking forward to Schroder-Irving matchup
Prior to learning Schroder would be unavailable, Vogel was excited at the prospect of testing his defense against the Nets, and in particular Irving. “I actually enjoy the challenging teams like this that are just really elite offensively,” Vogel said.
“Looking forward to seeing the Dennis Schroder-Kyrie Irving matchup. Dennis gives us a different dynamic this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing that matchup.”
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