The Los Angeles Lakers put together one of their most impressive wins of the season on Friday night, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in a game that went down to the wire. L.A. had struggled all season to win in crunch time, but with the help of Dennis Schroder, they were able to steal a win against a top Western Conference opponent.
Trailing by three with 17.1 seconds remaining, Schroder drew a foul to earn himself two free throws. After hitting both free throws, it was assumed the Lakers would foul in an attempt to extend the game. Instead, Schroder trapped Desmond Bane at half court, stripped the ball away and took it to the rim for an and-one layup that gave the Lakers the lead and the win.
Schroder discussed the game-winning play, saying that it was designed by head coach Darvin Ham and it went exactly according to plan. “Coach, he said we’re going to have one trap first before we foul,” Schroder said. “Went to all three refs and told them we’re going to trap first, and then we’re going to foul. I seen [Desmond] Bane catch the ball, and he had his back to me and just made a play. Luckily it worked out.”
L.A.’s difficulty winning close games this season has been no secret, as they rank No. 23 in clutch net rating. Schroder spoke to the importance of being able to close out and win Friday’s contest. “We’ve been in a lot of close games. Sometimes we finished it off. We had the five-in-a-row stretch.
“We did a great job of competing and executing at the same time. I mean, this game we were down 11 I believe. We stayed the course. They got 32 or 34 second-chance points, but I think the last couple of minutes we did a great job of rebounding and pushing the pace and stayed with it.”
The Lakers point guard then praised the full team effort, saying it’s a bigger sign of what they can accomplish. “I mean, competing at the end of the day. Competing. Staying together. I think we did a great job of keep being engaged, and don’t let everything else bother you, and don’t give up. That was a good one today how we stayed together and stayed the course. How we executed and, luckily, got the steal and the and one.”
Despite being four games below .500, the Lakers have a number of high-quality wins that give hope towards what they can be at their best. Defeating a Grizzlies team that has been tied for or has had the best record in the west nearly all season is a big statement.
The Lakers now have at least one win against all four of the top seeds in the Western Conference.
Anthony Davis could return as soon as late next week
It’s possible that major reinforcements could soon be re-entering the mix for L.A in the form of Anthony Davis. Davis has missed over five weeks since suffering a stress reaction in his foot. Now, reports say he could be making his return to the lineup when the Lakers face the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Jan. 28.
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