It’s very rare that a team can lose two of their main ball handlers and distributors and still manage to win games. That’s exactly what the Los Angeles Lakers have done, compiling an 8-3 record in their last 11 games while missing LeBron James for eight games and D’Angelo Russell for only four full games and one quarter.
The play of Dennis Schroder has been one of the keys to this success despite not having Russell or James. Taking over as the team’s primary point guard, Schroder has averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 assists in his last 12 games. He was the starting point guard in nine of those 12 games.
Schroder has also continued to play the strong defense that has been associated with him for a majority of his career. He was one of the backbones of L.A.’s No. 1 overall defense in 2020-21 and has done it again this season.
When asked what has been working for him in the last few weeks, Schroder kept his answer simple. “Just playing my game,” Schroder said. “Being aggressive and attacking the basket, trying to look for my teammates. On the defensive end, just being me. Pressuring full court. I think it was a solid game for everybody tonight.”
Schroder also recognizes how well the team has meshed over the last few weeks. “We’re just trying to get better every single day. I think we’re trending in the right direction and doing a great job just playing off each other, playing defense at a high level. If we keep this up, we’re gonna be really good.”
The Lakers are just one win away from getting back to .500 for the first time this season. Since their 2-10 start, they are 31-24 overall. And they have inched their way closer to avoiding the Play-In Tournament altogether.
They are currently in the No. 9 slot in the Western Conference, but are just a half-game back of the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves for No. 7. They are also only 1.5 games back of the Golden State Warriors for the No. 6 seed.
Schroder happy to have Russell back in lineup
Russell made his return to the Laker lineup in grand fashion on Friday, finishing with 28 points and nine assists on 10-of-17 from the field in a big win over the Toronto Raptors. Schroder returned to the bench where he was still effective with 23 points and seven assists.
“Of course. We missed him,” Schroder said of Russell. “Another player that can play-make and get his own shot. He’s valuable for the team and I’m glad to get him back.”
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