Dennis Schroder was the team’s superstar for the night, scoring 32 points despite apparently spraining his ankle in the fourth quarter.
He said after the game that although Lakers head coach Darvin Ham tried to take him out of the contest, he insisted on staying in.
Schroder on Ham trying to take him out: "He tried to protect me and said he don't want me playing on 1 leg. But I felt pretty good, so I told him to let me play and to trust me, that I would be great. He said yeah be good, and I said yeah, I'll be great don't worry about it."
— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) January 5, 2023
During his first stint with the Lakers two seasons ago, Schroder irked a good portion of the fan base by asking for a huge contract extension. His seemingly prickly personality at times didn’t help his case either.
But this time around, fans have been reminded how tough a player he is and how willing he is to play while hurt or experiencing discomfort.
Schroder has been a supporting player for his entire career. He has the ability to score off the dribble, attack in the open court, set others up and occasionally hit 3-pointers. On Wednesday, he got hot from downtown, hitting 4-of-7 from that distance while also converting 12-of-14 from the free-throw line.
He also played very well down the stretch, scoring multiple big baskets in crunch time. His two foul shots with 3.2 seconds left sealed the win for Los Angeles.
After playing a lot of road games in December, the Lakers will be at home for much of January, which will give them an opportunity to get back on track and get into the Western Conference playoff picture for the first time this season.
In addition to Schroder, Russell Westbrook made his presence felt with 21 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and three steals, while Thomas Bryant added 21 points and nine rebounds.
This type of offensive explosion could serve as a springboard for Schroder moving forward. The Lakers badly need more supporting players who are consistently productive, and he is one of the best candidates to do just that.