Lakers News: D’Angelo Russell Praises Dennis Schroder For ‘Huge’ Effort In His Absence
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Schroder has essentially taken the reigns as the Los Angeles Lakers’ only point guard for the last six games. D’Angelo Russell suffered a sprained ankle early in their game against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 23, and he has not played since.

As Russell nears a return, expected to be back in the starting lineup on Friday night against the Toronto Raptors, Schroder’s performance in his absence is certainly worthy of praise. He averaged 14.3 points and 8.5 assists while playing 34.3 minutes per game.

He wasn’t particularly efficient shooting the ball, but he made up for it with intangible leadership qualities that helped the Lakers secure a 4-2 record in a stretch that included five games without either Russell or LeBron James.

Russell in particular was impressed by Schroder’s play while he was out. “Huge. Huge. He carried the team, he led the team. Did everything he possibly could do,” Russell said. “The way he started that Memphis game was huge, and he’s always been that guy. Just super competitive and leads by example as well, defensively and offensively. So he was huge.”

The Lakers point guard then widened his scope. “Just passion. Everybody is playing with passion,” Russell said of the Lakers. “Since the trade, I’ve kind of felt that and it never let off. Everybody is kind of contributing in their own way, everybody is locked into the goal and everybody is well aware of it. It’s not flying under the radar what we’re trying to get done.”

The team’s record reflects Russell’s attitude, as excluding the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks loss, the Lakers are 7-3 since the trade deadline. They have looked like one of the league’s more complete teams and have vaulted themselves from the 13th seed up to No. 9 and within shouting distance of No.6.

Schroder’s leadership has been essential in getting the Lakers to this point, as playing with only one true point guard is generally not an ideal set up when every game is a must-win.

Russell now re-enters the starting lineup for another vital three-game stretch against the Raptors, New York Knicks and New Orleans Pelicans. If they can get through this important stretch with a couple of wins, they’ll be rewarded with a seven-game segment that includes the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and two games against the Chicago Bulls.

Troy Brown Jr. credits teammates from recent play

Another Laker who has stepped up in the absence of others is Troy Brown Jr., who is in the midst of his best stretch of the season. However, he opted to credit his teammates for putting him in spots to succeed by getting him the ball at the right time and trusting him.

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