LeBron James, wearing a gray plastic shoe, black hoodie and black mask, and Anthony Davis, wearing a lime green jacket and bright yellow mask, were hard to miss on the sidelines Sunday during the Los Angeles Lakers’ 111-94 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
But Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder said that if Los Angeles is without two in-form stars, the Lakers will have to completely rethink their approach.
I think the way we used to play on the court against them now is the exact opposite, Schroeder said after the Lakers led by as many as 18 points against the Suns and never regained the lead. I think we need to move the ball and play with more pace. Defensively we need to be more combative. And yes, I mean, everyone on the field has to have the confidence to take a shot or make a defensive move.
When asked who will be out for at least another week while James is unavailable indefinitely with a high right ankle and while Davis is out with a calf strain and tendinosis in his right foot, Lakers coach Frank Vogel mentioned Schroeder.
Dennis Schroder will clearly be the head of the snake, holding the ball more often than not and dictating some of the action, Vogel said after the 27-year-old, acquired in the offseason from the Oklahoma City Thunder, scored 22 points and dished out three assists Sunday. But we have a lot of experienced guys on our team that can lead, and we encourage our guys to lead from any seat in the room.
That includes James’ seat, which sat next to the bench at Phoenix Suns Arena.
That tells me he cares about this organization, Schroeder said of James, who left the command flight several hours after an MRI exam and X-rays of the ankle. In my career, I’ve seen a few players get injured and not make the trip. The fact that he’s the best – one of the best players of all time – and that he stays on the bench even when he’s injured means a lot to me and to everyone else [in this team].
Schroeder could take the reins for a while. Vogel admitted that an ankle sprain usually takes time to heal. They’re slowly recovering.
With the NBA’s compressed schedule due to COVID-19, even if James had a relatively quick rehab process and missed three to four weeks, that would have meant 13 to 16 more games without him for a team that dropped to 0-2 when he didn’t play.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, is trying to find a glimmer of hope. Bird said he was optimistic because of the way the Lakers played against the No. 2 Suns in the Western Conference. Schroeder went so far as to say that playing without co-captains is a good thing for everyone else, because they can prove to their teammates and the organization that they can play.
And Vogel noted that time off would be difficult for the 36-year-old, who is in his 18th season. Season played just 71 days after finishing his 17th season. Starting the season might not be a bad thing for James.
We’re pushing him to take a mental break and recharge a little bit so that when he comes back, we’re able to make a playoff push and have an impact in the playoffs, Vogel said of James.
The idea of James rejoining the team may be a comfort to Los Angeles – after all, he led the team to a championship last season after a 4.5-month hiatus – but there’s still an immediate problem the Lakers will have to deal with in the interim.
We want to play as hard as we can, play the right way and [we] will always come out victorious, Lakers great Montrezl Harrell said. We just have to hold on until these guys come to their senses and come back.
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