On the second night of their back-to-back on Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers came out flat against the Cleveland Cavaliers. So flat, in fact, that I will give myself the “Old Takes Exposed” treatment: I lost faith that L.A. had a shot to win this game:
Me, every time I turn on my TV since LeBron got hurt pic.twitter.com/jTxB0n6hR0— Silver Screen and Roll (@LakersSBN) March 27, 2021
The Lakers were only trailing by seven points at halftime, but coming off of four losses in a row and with the team looking fairly tired and sloppy in a first half that saw them turn the ball over 12 times, it was hard not to assume that more of the same was coming over the final 24 minutes. I certainly wasn’t the only one to feel some doom and gloom.
But the Lakers never did. Instead, they flipped the script, ripping off a 17-2 run as part of a dominant 28-10 third quarter, and then putting their foot on the gas with a 7-0 run to the start the fourth and put away a 100-86 victory, their 11th time coming back from a double-digit deficit to win this season. It took five games, but the Lakers finally got their first with without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Leading the way, as the Lakers need him to during this stretch, was Dennis Schröder. He may be ready to test free agency this summer, but he isn’t giving up on the Lakers by any means. His energy — especially to start the second half — gave the Lakers the jolt they needed, most memorably with him using his speed to make an unbelievable block in transition.
Schröder finished the night with 17 points and 7 assists, many of the latter of which were to Montrezl Harrell, who brought the punch off the bench. Harrell dunked everything in sight and never let up his intensity for a second to get 24 points and 10 rebounds of his own while shooting 10-15 from the field. These are the versions of the Sixth Man of the Year and runner up for the award that the Lakers need, especially while their two stars continue to miss time.
But it wasn’t just those two. This was a true team win. Alex Caruso gave the Lakers 4 steals and tenacious defense. Talen Horton-Tucker had an efficient scoring night with 15 points on 11 shots. Wesley Matthews played physical defense and scored when needed, while Marc Gasol helped keep the offense moving. The Lakers need something from just about everyone just to have a chance right now, and on Friday night they got it.
This victory moves the Lakers to 29-17 on the season, allowing them to continue their tenuous grasp on the fourth seed in the Western Conference ahead of the surging Denver Nuggets (27-18) for at least another few days. The Cavaliers are not a good basketball team, but a win is a win. And the Lakers need all of those they can get right now, in any way they can get them. Friday was a start, and they’ve more than earned the day off they’ll get before hosting the Orlando Magic on Sunday.