LeBron James had a message for Montrezl Harrell after the Los Angeles Lakers big man exploded for 18 points in a 114-103 victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday.
“Way to be you,” James wrote on Instagram following the victory with a photo of Harrell yelling after a big basket.
Harrell responded by reposting James, writing: “Yes sir OG. From here on out.”
The big night was important for Harrell, who has slumped in April, averaging just 8.2 points compared to the 19.5 he logged in March. And Harrell was coming off his first game this season where he didn’t see the court due to a coaching decision by Frank Vogel.
“Keeping all three centers sharp,” Vogel said of the decision to play veteran Marc Gasol over Harrell on Saturday. “You’ve got two in a back-to-back situation with Dallas and giving each guy a look and seeing how those guys look in this matchup. But like I said, we believe in all three centers and we need to keep all three centers sharp. That’s all.”
While it’s not an ideal situation, Harrell has dealt with it well.
“I’m a competitor,” Harrell told reporters on Monday. “But it’s just one of those things you have to learn to deal with. I’ve been in this position before. I came into this league and played behind two centers in Dwight [Howard] and Nene in Houston. And I’ve been around veteran guys who have taught me how to take this game like a pro.. … It’s about being a pro, doing what the team needs and what the coaches ask me to do.”
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) April 27, 2021
Harrell was animated during the game and provided a spark for the Lakers when the Magic crawled back into the game.
“I play with a lot of energy and a lot of passion because every day I get to wake up and put my shoes on and be blessed to play the game of basketball to take care of my family,” Harrell said.
LeBron’s Advice to Dennis Schroder: ‘Do Your S—‘
It sounds like James had a similar message to Dennis Schroder, who has turned it on of late. Schroder was a team-best plus-23 against the Magic, scoring 21 points to go with 10 assists.
“LeBron is telling us to be aggressive,” Schroder said. “He always tells me, ‘Dennis you have to be aggressive. You’re not a normal point guard. Do your s–t.'”
The double-double was the third straight for Schroder, who has focused on cutting down his turnovers. He’s turned to Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd — who also was a 10-time All-Star point guard during his NBA career — for advice.
“I’ve been careless. I just try to make the right play and be careful. I want to stay aggressive looking for my teammates, just in a different way. I’ve been talking to [Jason Kidd] a lot and he’s been helping me as well.”
Dennis Schroder Ready for Whatever Happens
When James does return to the lineup, Schroder will take on a different role with his ball-handling duties lightened and usage going down. However, he still sees himself being a key piece for the defending champs, whatever the challenge may be.
“LeBron gonna do his thing, AD is gonna do his thing and I think we still have a lot of firepower in this locker room,” Schroder said. “But when it comes to floor general, get a bucket if we need to, hold it down when LeBron is not on the floor, I try to help my team with that. Like I said, I’m ready whatever comes, I will take the challenge.”
As for when James will return, Schroder shed some light, while still being a bit vague.
“He’s close,” Schroder said, “I can tell you that much.”
Dr. Dennis Schröder, on LeBron.
"He's close, I can tell you that much."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) April 27, 2021
The Lakers have a day off before facing the Wizards on Wednesday. Washington had won eight in a row before dropping its most recent contest.