Even though Anthony Davis’ bounce-back game and LeBron James’ clutch shots down the stretch stood out the most, the Los Angeles Lakers wouldn’t have won Game 2 against the Phoenix Suns without the play of Dennis Schroder and Andre Drummond.
During the second quarter, Los Angeles’ offense derailed against Phoenix’s defense, the sixth-best in the league. Despite having Davis on the floor, the Lakers couldn’t penetrate the paint to open the rest of the court.
Los Angeles had Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker as the two guards, but both struggled to create offense and the latter was benched after forcing some tough shots.
Head coach Frank Vogel inserted Schroder back in the lineup and saw a positive difference. Schroder looked aggressive from the moment he re-entered the game, looking to burst to the rim or pull up into a jumper.
In fact, 14 of Schroder’s 24 points came in the second quarter. He hit both of his 3 in the period, and got to the free-throw line as a result of his aggression.
The same could be said about Drummond, who garnered seven rebounds along with six points in the opening quarter, a notable change from his energy in Game 1.
Though Vogel went with Marc Gasol, and later Davis, at center to close the game, Drummond always involved himself in quality plays.
He scored efficiently with his back to the basket, boxed out Phoenix to snag offensive rebounds and didn’t force the issue. Drummond ended the game with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block, making for arguably his best game as a Laker.
After the game, James credited the way Schroder and Drummond stepped up, according to Harrison Faigen of SB Nation:
James, Davis, Schroder and Drummond accounted for 96 of the 109 points scored by Los Angeles. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn’t score, and the bench did more defensively than on offense.
While James and Davis normally lead the Lakers to victory in most games as the team’s stars, they’ll need Schroder and Drummond to keep playing at this level to relieve the burden when defenses attempt to limit LeBron and AD. They showed they could do it in Game 2 for a vital win.