The contributions from Dennis Schroder and Andre Drummond proved to be pivotal in putting the Lakers in position to come out victorious in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns.
They played their roles to their fullest, and that’s all the Lakers can ask of Schroder and Drummond when the moment arrives for the two newcomers to play their parts.
As the starting point guard, Schroder was all over the court, scoring when it was needed — 24 points in all — and playing defense with gusto.
As the starting center, Drummond used his power and strength to bully the Suns down low, producing 15 points and 12 rebounds.
With Schroder and Drummond carrying their share of the load and helping their two stars, Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers pulled out a 109-102 win over the Suns on Tuesday night to even the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
“Dennis was in attack mode from the very beginning,” James said after the game during his videoconference. “He lived in the paint, and when they sagged off, he hit shots from the perimeter as well [as] from the three and from the mid-range. But he just stayed in attack mode.
“And I thought big Dre was amazing in the minutes he had, both in the offensive rebounding from the beginning of the game, to find his way offensively. … We got the ball in the post a couple times, made some great moves. He was just very decisive with his play tonight and I think is his sixth playoff game, maybe six or seven, that he’s had in his career, so he’s going to continue to get better and better. But we needed that effort out of both of them.”
Schroder came up big in the fourth quarter when the Lakers’ 15-point second-half lead turned into a one-point deficit.
He attacked the rim, was fouled and made both his free-throw attempts.
Then he assisted Davis on a basket and got a steal later in the fourth quarter that led to two free throws for Davis that sealed the win.
“After the first game, I talked to coaches and watched film. They told me to just be aggressive,” Schroder said during his videoconference. “At the end of the day, I just did that. Tried to be creative getting into the lane. Just putting pressure on the rim. And I think it worked out really well. AD, sometimes, we’d do the dump off when the big men helped. So yeah, just being aggressive.”
There was a sequence in the first half that showed how aggressive Drummond was going to be.
He had the basketball poked away from him in the low post, but Drummond retrieved the ball on the wing.
Drummond then scored on a hook shot and was fouled. He made the free throw for a three-point play.
“Yeah, for me I was, like I told you guys before, it was just finding my role and finding my niche for this team,” Drummond said. “And it’s to be the aggressor, be the bodyguard for those two guys, for LeBron and AD, and just making sure that all the dirty work is getting done.”
Game 3 is Thursday night at Staples Center, and Schroder, for one, expects more of the same from Drummond.
“Yeah, he got to do that every night,” Schroder said. “He got to be on point on every single possession, on the defensive end and the offensive end. He’s kind of getting used to our system — I need that sometimes as well.
“To see his development, improvement every day, it’s getting there. Still talking to him every day, on the video, when we see the film and everything is getting him better. Every day is going to be better for us and for the group. Today he did a great job. He just got to do it from here.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.