The Los Angeles Lakers have grown accustomed to playing shorthanded as they’ve spent the 2022-23 season playing without some of their key rotation players. Recently, the Lakers have had to make due without LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell, who are dealing with foot and ankle injuries, respectively.
The odds were stacked even more against the Lakers before their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday as the team announced they would be sitting Anthony Davis as a precaution due to his stress reaction in his foot. However, even with their three best players out, Los Angeles managed to rally and beat Oklahoma City in a pivotal game between Western Conference foes fighting for their postseason lives.
With no James or Russell to organize the offense, Dennis Schroder took it upon himself to lead the Lakers on that end of the floor. After committing six turnovers against the Memphis Grizzlies the night before, Schroder bounced back and made smarter decisions with the basketball. He used his speed to get to his preferred spots on the floor and did well to find his teammates whenever he was able to collapse the defense.
The German guard looked like his night was over when it looked like he sprained his ankle, but he was able to get taped and actually controlled the game in the second half. He led all scorers with 26 points to go along with six assists and two steals.
Like Schroder, Troy Brown Jr. also had a bounce-back game shooting the basketball. Brown was a much-needed source of scoring against a solid Oklahoma City defense and was able to make them pay for sagging too far off him. The swingman poured in 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Austin Reaves had one of his best games of the season, leading the reserves in scoring with 19 points on a nearly perfect shooting line. Reaves knocked down all five of his field goal attempts while also going 8-of-9 from the charity stripe. Reaves was calming force for the Lakers each time the Thunder made a run, making timely shots or finding his teammates for open looks.
Lastly, Lonnie Walker IV and Rui Hachimura made their marks in the first and second half, respectively. The duo combined for 22 points off the bench, making good on the extra minutes available.
What’s next for Lakers
The Lakers finally return home and play a Minnesota Timberwolves team that is starting to peak at the right time. Their homestand continues on Sunday when they take on the Golden State Warriors.
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