After a double-digit loss on the road to the Phoenix Suns over the weekend, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Dennis Schröder offered a detailed response to how his team should operate without its two superstars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“How we played before with those two on the court is totally opposite now,” Schröder said. “We’ve got to move the ball. We’ve got to play with more pace. On the defensive end we’ve got to be more scrappy. And everybody’s who’s coming out on the floor has to be confident to knock down the shot, or to impact the game on the defensive end.
“And I think we have to shoot more threes while they are out. Me driving and kicking out for open threes. I think that’s good offense.”
While Schröder outlined the blueprint for life without James and Davis for the Lakers over the next, few weeks, the question remains can they execute it? The Lakers will get another opportunity to figure it out on the road on Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, a 4:30 p.m. local time start.
On Sunday, the answer was a resounding no, as the Lakers shot just 5 for 25 (20 percent) from beyond the arc against the Suns. That highlights a troubling trend shooting the ball for the Lakers, who are shooting 35 percent from the 3-point line over the last 10 games, No. 22 in the NBA.
Without James and Davis asserting their will and creating offense in half-court sets, the Lakers need more offensive scoring punch from role players like Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Wesley Matthews.
“I’m just out there trying to play the right way, regardless,” Kuzma said. “I think that’s how I’ve been so successful this year, just playing the right way. And if the ball comes to me, then I’ll try to make something happen. But if not, just play off it and play the right way.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel believes his team is up to the task.
“Any time any guys are out, you adjust and play to the guys that are in there’s strengths,” Vogel said. “And this will be no different. We talked about more than the offensive organization that LeBron brings to the table is the defensive command with his voice. I think that’s something we could potentially miss on the defensive side of the ball, so everyone has to pick up the slack in that regard every bit as much as they are picking up the offensive slack.”
One player the Lakers will lean on even more is Montrezl Harrell. With James and Davis out, Harrell is L.A.’s most consistent scorer inside. The Lakers have relied on Harrell to create offense in critical stretches of the game, particularly in the fourth quarter to help close games out.
“To be honest with you man, I’m just playing and taking what the defense gives me,” Harrell said. “I’m not trying to force anything. I’m not trying to go out there and prove something or making a statement that I should be getting this. I’m just playing the game, taking what the defense gives me. And my teammates are do a great job of finding me and passing me the ball.”
The Lakers say James will be out indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain, so there’s no timetable on his return. High-ankle sprains can take from a few weeks to a couple months to heal. However, James said via twitter that he’ll be back soon like he never left.
“He’s a guy that’s been doing this for a numerous amount of years,” Harrell said. “But we do forget that he’s human sometimes. So, to see him actually take a blow like that and actually be in a lot of pain, just set us back and reminded us that he still has to go through the same type of protocols that we all do if it’s a big enough injury. But at the same time he’s still different. He’s one of these guys that takes the little nicks and bumps, and it doesn’t set him back as much as other guys. So we just have to wait and see.”