The Los Angeles Lakers went back to winning days thanks to the 100-86 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. L.A. ended a four-game losing streak in big part due to the freshly-anointed team leaders Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell.
Harrell stepped up massively in the absence of Anthony Davis, averaging 19.6 points over 11 games in March. The 27-year-old forward ended the clash against Cleveland as the Lakers’ leading scorer again, putting up a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Schroder added 17 points and seven assists as he is adjusting to the main playmaker role following LeBron James’ ankle injury. Three of those assists ended up in Harrell’s hands, proving the chemistry between the dynamic duo is becoming a major weapon for the Lakers. “As far as the offensive side of the floor, we’re starting to gel,” Harrell said.
“We’re starting to find some plays, read each other a little bit more.”
Schroder’s playmaking appears to dovetail with Harrell’s hustle in pick-and-roll game, which L.A. badly misses without Davis and James. The two All-Stars terrorized opponents with their ball-screen offense last season and until they return, Schroder and Harrell will have plenty of opportunities to polish off their own pick-and-roll plays.
But those, they claim, are already starting to take shape. “I think a lot of that was about reads and kind of getting a feel of what each other can kind of do or how we kind of want the ball or a screen set for one another,” Harrell said. “It’s just communication. It’s going to take a little bit of time. This is our first year playing together, but I think we’re going to get it right.”
And Schroder added: “He [Harrell] is a hell of a player, hell of a screener. Even if he doesn’t screen him, slip out, puts so much pressure on the rim that it makes it easy on me to make the decisions. There were still turnovers, I got to be better, but it’s getting better.”
Harrell calls Schroder ‘a warrior’ on defense
Harrell and Schroder seem to share a similar mentality centered around hustle and grit, which explains their quickly developing chemistry. In addition to his basketball IQ, Harrell said he valued Schroder’s commitment on the defensive end, which he has been praised for by head coach Frank Vogel already.
“He’s a warrior on the defensive end of the floor,” Harrell said. “He started getting up on guys, picking them up full court. Making them uncomfortable, turning guys.”
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