The Los Angeles Lakers have managed to stay afloat without LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the sideline, with the team’s strong core of role players stepping up.
The Lakers are hanging on to the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference and added another tally to the win column on Saturday by knocking off a depleted Utah Jazz team.
Dennis Schroder had one of his best games of the season, collecting 25 points and 8 assists, knocking down some clutch buckets down the stretch to force overtime.
Schroder got some major help from new big man Andre Drummond (27 points) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (25 points) to beat the top team in the West, albeit the Jazz were without multiple starters.
Schroder gave props to Drummond, who has been inserted into the Lakers’ starting lineup, while also sending a warning to the rest of the NBA about how the team will look when everyone is on the floor.
“He’s a big key as well. Defensively if he locks in, he can be an X-factor for us as well,” Schroder told Mike Trudell of Spectrum Sports. “Offensively he’s putting so much pressure on the rim. When AD and LeBron come back, it’s going to be really scary because he’s putting so much pressure on the rim. You have to take that advantage.”
Andre Drummond Shines in Victory Over Jazz
Drummond showed why he was such a coveted asset after being bought out by the Cavaliers, providing a spark on both ends of the court for the Lakers in the victory against the Jazz. His 27 points were a new high with LA and he added eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot. Drummond was very efficient, as well, going 10 for 15 from the field and hitting seven of his eight free-throw attempts.
With his injured toe, Drummond has bounced in and out of the lineup, so his integration into the lineup has been slow.
“I think tonight was a good game for all of us,” Drummond said during his postgame videoconference with reporters. “For me personally, I think it was a pretty solid game. I just played my game. I’m just out there to help this team the best way I can. As a unit, we clicked on all cylinders.”
The way Drummond played in extra time to seal the victory inspired confidence in Lakers coach Frank Vogel, who is still getting a feel for how to use
“He rewarded my trust by putting him back in there in the overtime by really dominating the overtime — with blocked shots and boards and finishing at the rim, even making his free throws when they tried to foul him,” Vogel told reporters. “Just a great night for Drum and the first real positive night I think in a Lakers uniform for him, so I’m super happy for him.”
Lakers Awaiting Word on Anthony Davis’ Return
As Schroder pointed out, the Lakers could be very scary when they get Anthony Davis and LeBron James back.
James is still a bit away from a return, Vogel left the door open for Davis to suit up this weekend or on Monday, although it sounds like it will be a little longer. When he does return, Davis will be on minutes restriction of around 15 minutes.
“He’s tired of being a patient and ready to be a player again, so he’s eager to get to work in real practice the next few days in live work, and more eager to get back on the floor,” Vogel said. “And obviously that’s going to give our whole group a big lift.”
Prior to the injury, Davis was averaging 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds, while also helping bolster the Lakers’ defense with 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals.
The Lakers face the Jazz on Monday at Staples Center before taking on the Mavericks in Dallas on Thursday.