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How Dennis Schroder changed the Lakers’ fate on one possession

Lakers guard Dennis Schroder dives for a loose ball after knocking it away from Nuggets guard Jamal Murray.
Lakers guard Dennis Schroder dives for a loose ball after knocking it away from Nuggets guard Jamal Murray during the second quarter on Thursday night.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

The first dive to the court by Lakers guard Dennis Schroder during the second quarter knocked the pass intended for Denver’s Jamal Murray into the backcourt. The second dive by Schroder just moments later after Murray had tracked the ball down turned the play into a 24-second clock violation against the Nuggets.

As Schroder lay prone on his stomach on the Staples Center court after those two exquisite, all-out-hustling plays, coach Frank Vogel showed his appreciation by running onto the court to help up his point guard.

Schroder had sacrificed his body for the good of the team on consecutive plays, and his determination and energy were central to the Lakers pulling out a 114-93 win over the Nuggets on Thursday night.

“Anytime a player dives on the floor for a loose ball in front of his coach, that’s going to excite the coach,” Vogel said. “So, we definitely look for that kind of hustle. Dennis fits in to our identity of being a really hard-playing dude. And when we have that kind of speed and intensity on the perimeter with guys like AD [Anthony Davis] and Bron [LeBron James], we’re going to be tough to beat.”

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The Lakers had been trudging along in the second quarter, their energy lacking, their intensity nowhere to be found.

They found themselves down by 12 points in the second, by 10 when Schroder’s unrelenting pressure sparked the Lakers.

Lakers star LeBron James called the plan to hold a 2021 NBA All-Star game in March during the COVID-19 pandemic a ‘slap in the face’ to players.

“When we’re playing well, we’re defending,” James said. “We’re flying around, we’re helping one another. You just said it. You seen Dennis dive on the floor for a loose ball twice in the same possession.”

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Schroder also came up big on the offensive end.

He scored 21 points, missing just two of his nine shots while making both of his three-pointers and all five of his free throws.

“He made some big shots, he made some big plays,” Davis said. “I think it started with the hustle play, gave everybody energy. He hit two big-time threes, could have been three. I threw a bad pass to him in the corner, went out of bounds. He was wide open. But he’s making big plays for us. He’s picking it up 94 feet. He’s everywhere. His hands are on the ball. He’s finding the right guys on the offensive end. So, he’s doing everything for us.”

When the Lakers outscored the Nuggets 37-17 in the third quarter, using a 15-0 run at the endto give Los Angeles an eight-point lead heading into the fourth, Schroder scored nine of his points.

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But it was his play in the second quarter that inspired his teammates and Vogel.

“Him recognizing that I’m on the floor try to help me up, it means a lot,” Schroder said. “That’s a big culture of the Lakers’ basketball. Just when somebody is down, then everybody is going up to him and try to help him up. Coach came on the floor and tried to help me up, gave us a big push.”


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