‘Dennis the Menace’ jolts listless Lakers with smothering defense vs. Pelicans
It was the disruptive force of Dennis Schroder that jump-started the listless Lakers in the second quarter. It was the defensive whirlwind led by Schroder that pulled the lethargic Lakers along when they got down by 15 points before halftime.
Schroder was an instigator who used his energy to smother his man, picking up players from the New Orleans Pelicans full court, forcing them into uncomfortable positions on Friday night at Staples Center.
He had three steals in the second quarter and that as much as anything was a catalyst to help the Lakers win their fifth consecutive game.
“You saw that energy, man,” LeBron James said. “Right now, without fans in Staples Center, which we miss so much, man, just having a defender like ‘Dennis the Menace’ did, being able to pick up full court and get like two or three consecutive steals or deflections, get us out on the break. He got us right back into the game. Big time on his part, man. He’s been doing that all year for us and it takes the opposing offense out of a lot of stuff that they want to do, either coming out of a timeout having a set play and being able to disrupt that with Dennis being on the ball. It just leads to a lot of energy for our ballclub.”
Brandon Ingram showed he’s improved since being part of the Anthony Davis trade, but he couldn’t stop the Lakers from beating the Pelicans 112-95.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope took on the same defensive challenge as Schroder by picking up Brandon Ingram as time was running out in the first half. Caldwell-Pope harassed Ingram enough that he lost control of the ball.
By the time Ingram secured the ball in his hands, Schroder had run over to double-team him, causing the Pelicans forward to get his shot off after the buzzer had sounded to end the first half.
As Schroder lay prone on the court, James, who was on the bench resting, was the first Laker to run over to pick up his teammate off the court. Then Anthony Davis grabbed Schroder by the other hand and both Davis and James picked up their brother, both of them showing appreciation for the all-out effort they were seeing from the guard.
Schroder started to change the complexion of the game for the Lakers when he ripped the ball away from Pelicans point guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker for a steal.
Highlights from the Lakers’ 112-95 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.
On New Orleans’ next possession, Schroder stole the ball form Alexander-Walker again.
It was obvious that Alexander-Walker was rattled, as were the Pelicans, because he no longer handled the ball for the rest of the second quarter.
Schroder’s three steals in the quarter tied his career high for the most rips in any quarter and it helped the Lakers trim a 45-30 deficit to one point, 58-57, at the half.
“It started with D.S.’ ball pressure,” Davis said about Schroder. “He got two back-to-back steals. He kind of got us going. We fed off his energy.”
After hustling for a loose ball, Schroder eventually found Caldwell-Pope on the wing for a three-pointer that forced the Pelicans to call a timeout.
The Lakers’ 2020 NBA championship rings may have cost more than $20,000 each and feature nods to Kobe Bryant and the unique challenges the season presented.
But before he left the court, Schroder and Eric Bledsoe were face to face, neither backing down, until James pulled his teammate away. Schroder slowly walked back to the Lakers’ bench.
When his night was over, Schroder had been a thorn in the side of the Pelicans.
He was also on point on offense, scoring 12 points, collecting five rebounds and handing out four assists.
“The fight that he showed, picking up full court, getting those two turnovers, really creating some havoc for their offense really positioned us to do what we did in the second half,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “It’s a one-point game at halftime. It could’ve been a 10-, 15-point differential. And I think Dennis was critical in that stretch.”
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