The Los Angeles Lakers ultimately handled the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night to extend their winning streak to five games.
However, prior to a second quarter run sparked by Dennis Schroder’s full-court press defense, the Pelicans were in complete control, leading 45-30. It was at that point that Schroder turned up the defensive intensity, forcing turnovers and turning them into points.
He was largely the reason the Pelicans had 13 first-half turnovers, allowing the Lakers to close the gap and trail by just one point at halftime. “You saw the energy, man,” James said of Schroder.
“Right now without fans in Staples Center, which we miss so much, having a defender like Dennis the Menace, being able to pick up fullcourt and get two or three consecutive steals or deflections to get us out on the break, it got us right back into the game. Big time on his part.”
Anthony Davis — who had a feeling the Pelicans might come out with extra energy — credited Schroder for creating that for the Lakers with his defense. “Just energy and effort. Slow start, a no-excuses team that had one game in seven days, we knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy and effort,” Davis said.
“We were slow defensively, we were slow offensively. I think in that first quarter they shot 62% from the field, 60% from 3, and we were shooting in the 20s. It started with D.S.’ ball pressure. He got two back-to-back steals and it kind of got us going. We fed off his energy.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel called Schroder’s defense “critical” in the second quarter. “We talked about what we did in the second half defensively, but I thought Dennis during that stretch really closed the gap,” Vogel said.
“I think we were down 10, 12 points for a lot of that early part of the game, and the fight that he showed, picking up fullcourt, getting those two turnovers, really creating some havoc for their offense positioned us to do what we did in the second half. It was a one-point game at halftime; could’ve been a 10- to 15-point differential, and I think Dennis was critical in that stretch.”
While Schroder has had some struggles offensively — both shooting the ball and avoiding turnovers — his defense has been better than advertised. His ability to impose pressure on ballhandlers and his quick hands creates problems for other teams.
Schroder loves Lakers chemistry, interested in signing long term
While Schroder’s teammates love his energy and his talent, it is not a one-way street. The eighth-year point guard spoke about the chemistry he has with his teammates and why it makes him want to stay for the long term.
“First off, yes, because of my teammates. I said it before, even first day, it felt like we’d been together for a month or two,” Schroder said.
“Chemistry is amazing. That’s the reason why I think I want to be here longterm. But like I said before, it’s got to be fair on both ends. If it’s fair, then I don’t have any problem. It’s going to be great to be here long term, for sure.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!