The Los Angeles Lakers have been dealt blow after blow with injuries or health and safety protocols removing pivotal players from the rotation for sizeable chunks of time. The climax of it all involved LeBron James suffering a high right ankle sprain during the game against the Atlanta Hawks.
After the injury occurred, James somehow managed to re-enter the game and drilled a corner three — and noticeably didn’t use his right leg too hard while shooting and landing — before heading to the locker room and leaving the game for good.
The contest against the Hawks marked the last of a three-game homestand before the Lakers departed L.A. for a quick two-game road trip against the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans.
Against the Suns, James could be seen with the Lakers bench wearing a large boot to protect his injury. Point guard Dennis Schroder explained what James’ presence meant, even though he could have opted not to join the squad.
“It tells me that he cares about this organization,” Schroder said. “In my career, I’ve seen people get hurt and don’t come on the road trip and for him being the best who ever played this game, that you see him on the bench being there even if he’s hurt means a lot.”
The Lakers already had significant trouble playing without Anthony Davis, but they seemed a rejuvenated group after the All-Star break. The resilient defense remained intact, and the 3-point shooting increased in efficiency, as players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma found a rhythm.
But in the short time without James, the Lakers have to search for a way to cope on both ends of the floor as their play hasn’t looked pretty. Schroder is a player that will shoulder the heaviest burden, especially offensively. But players like Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso will also need to step up and attempt to fill the scoring gap while simultaneously creating for others.
Schroder calls for Lakers to shoot more threes
One method of augmenting the offensive production could fall on the ability to attempt and make more 3-pointers. The Lakers excelled in 3-point shooting to start the season but haven’t been able to maintain a propitious efficiency with injuries and health and safety protocols barricading the door to consistency.
Schroder believes the Lakers need to change their approach in the absence of their two stars and take more 3-point shots, a department they’ve been scarce in recently.
“How we played before with them two on the court it’s totally opposite now,” Schroder said. “I think we’ve got to move the ball, play with more pace and on the defensive end, we’ve got to be more scrappy. Everybody who is coming on the floor got to be confident to knock down a shot or impact the game on the defensive end.
“I think we’ve got to shoot more threes while they’re out. Me driving and kicking out for open threes. I think it’s just good offense and THT, Alex Caruso and all them guards who can get to the rim or in the paint then find the extra pass for open threes. That’s how we’ve got to play right now.”
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