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Lakers, Dennis Schroder

Dennis Schroder reveals true MVP after clutch, last-second game tying shot vs. Jazz

Dennis Schroder was the MVP for the Los Angeles Lakers in Saturday’s wacky 127-115 OT victory over the extremely shorthanded Utah Jazz at Staples Center (with fans in attendance, for the second time).

However, as tough as the point guard proved once again, he may not have been able to lace up the Nikes without the help of his wife, Ellen, who came up just as clutch as her husband.

Schroder has played the last two games with an infection in his foot. In fact, he surprised his coach by suiting up against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.

Despite the pain—which he said resulted from a cut in-between his toes (ouch)—he hasn’t missed any action.

“The last two or three days have been pretty bad, but my wife took care of me,” Schroder said. “She said, ‘You need to play,’ and I don’t like to miss games, so I fought through it, tried to get out there with my guys.”

After his wife’s mystery treatment (perhaps involving a heavy dose of love), Schroder said it felt “night and day” better for the weekend. “Now I’m almost back to normal.”

By the transitive property, that makes Ellen the most valuable person for this Lakers win, according to our calculations.

Schroder said he’s still dealing with “a couple other issues,” but the infection “was the main one, so I’m glad that went away.” He was listed on the injury report after suffering a hip/pelvic contusion against the Brooklyn Nets and has mentioned a knee issue in passing.

However, Schroder wasn’t fighting through pain to earn respect in the locker room.

“I’ve been playing like that my whole career…I’m built like that,” he insisted. “It don’t matter what situation I’m in…It’s not because I changed organizations. I think that people know what I’m about, and that’s just trying to win games, trying to be out there, and trying to help my teammates.”

Schroder’s toughness wasn’t anything new to Andre Drummond, even if they’ve only been co-workers for a few weeks.

“Dennis is a competitor,” the center said. “I’ve played against Dennis his whole career. He’s always been that way. And to be his teammate now and to see it first hand…he’s an incredible player. He doesn’t give up and he plays every possession like his last…And defensively he’s far better than people give him credit for.”

Dennis Schroder Goes Clutch, Andre Drummond Steps Up

L.A. wouldn’t have won the ballgame without the heroics of Dennis the Menace, who scored 25 points (11-of-24 FG), joining Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope above the 20-point threshold. He aggressively attacked the cup all game, something the Lakers constantly need from him, with or without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Down the stretch, Schroder scored the final six points in regulation for L.A. (and a key stop), capped off by a lay-in with 3.5 seconds remaining that sent the game to overtime.

In a game with five 2020-21 All-Stars sidelined (James, Davis, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley Jr.), the Lakers received All-Star caliber showings from Schroder, Drummond and KCP. Yet, the win was defined by the collective effort.

All five starters hit double-figures, and their 100 total points marked the most in a single game for the Lakers in 15 months.

Drummond—playing through his own toe-centric ailment and coming off what he described as the “worst offense I’ve played” on Tuesday (he missed Thursday’s game)—had his most dominant outing in purple and gold. He dropped 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting, grabbed eight boards and made two steals, resulting in consecutive fast-break opportunities early in the third for the Big Penguin (err, Drum).

“It was definitely very tiring to have that happen going back and forth, back and forth, side to side,” Drummond said. “So I definitely was very exhausted when that timeout did come. So I’m glad [assistant coach Phil Handy] was there to catch me.”

His dominance out of halftime helped balloon the Lakers’ lead to double-digits, which came in as Handy as Phil.

“He was a monster in the paint, man,” Markieff Morris said. “They played small, so we needed him to dominate the paint. We’re going to need that in the playoffs. We just want to continue encouraging him to dominate the paint, get every rebound, contest every shot, and go beast mode.”

The Lakers won the paint battle, 64-38, enabling them to overcome 23 Jazz triples on a whopping 59 attempts. Crucially, Drummond nailed seven of eight free throws.

Schroder-Drummond Duo: A New Weapon for LA

Beyond scoring, Ellen’s husband ran steady point guard, too. His pick-and-roll chemistry with Drummond continues to hone by the minutes, which the Lakers repeatedly relied on.

“We found something that really worked for us…and they couldn’t stop it…Now we know that that’s something we can use down the stretch of games,” Drummond said.

Schroder dished out eight dimes and scrapped for six rebounds and two blocks(!). Most impressively, he continues to back up his word and limit the mistakes.

“Coach was like, ‘Just come off of screens and try to attack him,’ and that’s what we were trying to do there,” Schroder pointed about dealing with Ersan Ilyasova. “Even putting Jordan Clarkson in the pick-and-rolls and then try to make the right play. I think it worked out pretty well and yeah, we got the win.”

“We made more in-game adjustments in this game than in any game this year,” Vogel said. “…Those two guys two-man game really all night was working for us.”

Vogel also noted that he made sure to stick with the Schroder-Drummond two-man game to break out of their seven-minute 4Q scoring drought run, even after the Jazz switched to a 2-3 matchup zone.

“I played with Dennis in OKC, he’s always in the moment,” Morris said. “Tonight we needed him to score more, he made some great plays at the end of the game. He’s always live. Great defensive player. We’re getting to the point now where I think everybody knows’ each other’s game. We need that camaraderie…going into the playoffs.”

Early on, Caldwell-Pope led the way with his best two-way first half of the season, then added an and-1 floater and fast-break lay-up to ice things in OT (he went down with a calf cramp, but he said he’s fine).

Kyle Kuzma (13 points, six rebounds, six assists) played a quality floor game, while Morris added a tough 10 points, 12 rebounds and the most timely 3-pointer of the game that stopped the bleeding after Utah’s late run.

“He’s got to get paid. He’s tough,” Schroder said about Morris’ play.

Montrezl Harrell added 12 points and seven boards off the bench, including arguably his best highlight as a Laker.

In overtime, the Lakers re-found their groove and locked down, winning the extra period 17-5. The win improved L.A. to 4-1 in overtime games.

It was just the latest in a string of gutsy performances that continue to both reflect and build upon the Lakers’ championship character and culture, even sans the stars.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that were on the team last year that won the championship; that D.N.A. we just use it every game,” Morris said.

Vogel also noted the prospect of Davis returning on Monday was “unlikely.” For what it’s worth though, James continued to “impatiently patiently” wait, cheerlead, and do balance exercises on the sidelines.

Either way, they’re close and the players can feel it.

“When AD and LeBron come back it’s going to be really scary,” Schroder warned.