In the playoffs, the difference oftentimes comes down to role players making huge contributions. For the Los Angeles Lakers in their Play-In Tournament game Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, that difference-maker was backup point guard Dennis Schroder.
Schroder finished with 21 points off the bench, knocking down 3-of-4 shots from deep and all eight of his free throws. His biggest moment came with the game tied late in regulation when LeBron James found him in the corner and Schroder buried a 3-pointer to put the Lakers ahead with just 1.4 seconds remaining.
It was a situation Schroder has found himself in earlier this season as well and this time he made sure the outcome was different. “There was one game [earlier in the season] where I had a wide-open shot in the corner,” Schroder said after the game. “It was Charlotte [when LeBron lost his shoe]. That one hurt but I mean, today it felt better. Better outcome.”
Back in December, the Lakers lost to the Charlotte Hornets when Schroder missed an open corner 3-pointer with just a couple of seconds left. Unfortunately, Schroder’s moment on Tuesday was semi-ruined when Anthony Davis committed a foul with 0.1 seconds remaining that resulted in the game going to overtime, but the Lakers pushed through and completed the win.
It was a playoff atmosphere inside Crypto.com Arena and Schroder was thankful to the fans for helping to make it a special night for the Lakers overall. “It was special,” Schroder added. “Without them, we probably wouldn’t be here. It got loud at the end as well. Organization, fans, everybody, we appreciate it.”
The Lakers now find themselves in the seventh seed and will take on the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. It took a huge run down the stretch for the Lakers to find themselves in this position with the team now 19-8 since losing to the Milwaukee Bucks on the day of the trade deadline.
Coincidentally, Schroder himself said the Lakers needed 19 wins to make the playoffs and while he is glad the team finds itself here, he knows the job is far from over.
“Like I said, it’s unfinished business for myself and it means a lot,” Schroder added. “But we didn’t do nothing special yet, I think we just proved what we have in here that we’re capable of doing big things and it starts tomorrow. Get ready, watch film. Memphis is a good ballclub but like I said, it’s 0-0 and we’re ready for sure.”
The Lakers have certainly shown they can hang with anyone and if they plan on upsetting the Grizzlies in the first round, they will undoubtedly need to adopt that mindset of the job not being finished and be firing on all cylinders.
Lakers’ Anthony Davis explains what happened on final play of regulation vs. Timberwolves
Of course one of the biggest talking points came after Schroder’s clutch 3-pointer that should have won the game for the Lakers, but Davis inexplicably fouled Mike Conley Jr. on his 3-point attempt with 0.1 seconds remaining and Conley would knock down all three free throws to send the game into overtime.
Davis would speak about that play after the game, noting that there was a miscommunication on a switch between himself and LeBron James and that he tried to avoid the foul, but Conley forced the contact.
The Lakers’ big man would praise the team for not letting that moment get them down and being able to finish off the game before adding that Schroder, rightfully, got on him for ruining his game-winner.
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