Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schröder played great in spite of the Los Angeles Lakers losing to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Shaq dressed up as Santa. The Brooklyn Nets walloped the Golden State Warriors. The Los Angeles Lakers got their rings. The Los Angeles Clippers got PS5s. And just like that, after a quick 72-day offseason, Lakers and basketball fans alike got what they had been waiting for all day, the NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers playing in a real NBA basketball game.
As you know, for those who watched the game, the LA Clippers took a commanding lead early on, holding a 20-point lead by the end of the 1st quarter, and a 21-point lead for the first 2 minutes of the 2nd.
The Lakers erased the deficit and brought it to within 2 by the half. The contest remained competitive until Paul George put on a barrage of buckets to close out the 3rd quarter, which helped the Clips create a lead that the Lakers just could not overcome (The Lakers led at no point the entire night).
While the casual viewer could look at the game and pinpoint the loss on LeBron struggling to put the ball in the hoop for a large portion of the first half (although he pulled it together down the stretch and ended up shooting a modest 7-17 from the field), or Anthony Davis taking his time as well to begin heating up, the reality is that nobody wearing a purple and gold jersey really got into their groove until halfway through the second quarter.
With that said, many basketball fans likely got up from their couch with 3 minutes left in the game and called it a night. They probably looked back at the game and thought of something similar to these 3 takeaways from what they watched:
1. LeBron started too rusty, 2. The Lakers needed more on the offensive end from AD sooner, and most importantly, 3. Paul George heard everything that everybody had to say this offseason, signed his max contract extension, changed his hairstyle, and came to play with a vengeance in the 2020-2021 season.
While all of these points are valid reasons for Tuesday’s result, there are takeaways that basketball fans, and especially Lakers fans, need to be aware of. What people need to know, despite losing, the free-agent acquisitions, two, in particular, were giant bright spots in an otherwise bleak night of Lakers basketball.
Dennis Schröder and Montrezl Harrell will not be talking points on TV and Twitter will be busy talking about Paul George and making preposterous claims that LeBron is “washed” or “aging”, but their games cannot go unrecognized.
From the get-go, Schröder showed a versatility at the point guard position that the Lakers have not seen in quite some time.
From nailing his first shot as a Laker for three points to shifty dribble moves to turn into quick accelerations to get from the perimeter to the rim, to controlling the pace in transition, to feeding his teammates for buckets, Schröder had himself an impressive start.
In addition, DS17 managed to grab an impressive 12 rebounds to accompany his 14 points, on his way to approaching a nearly sneaky triple-double with 8 assists.
In the frontcourt, Montrezl Harrell’s tenacity stood out, which is what the Lakers organization wanted from the sixth man when they brought him in with his 2 year/$18.9M contract. Following a personal tragedy, Harrell struggled to find minutes in the bubble and contribute the way he had during the regular season.
Tuesday’s game saw a fresh Montrezl, who was an absolute bunny around the hoop. After every single shot, Trez was crashing the boards. Rebounds, putbacks, tips, lose balls, you name it, Trez was there.
What separates great rebounders from good ones is the effort that they bring to the boards on both sides of the ball. Montrezl brings it on the offensive boards, which is uncommon in today’s league. He finished with 10 rebounds, 4 of which coming on the offensive glass.
Seeing Trez’s rebounding efforts on the offensive end reminds me of a former teammate of LeBron’s, Tristan Thompson, one of the best offensive rebounders of the past decade. Interestingly enough, since LeBron played with Tristan, he has not had a teammate rebound on offense in even a comparable way.
However, Trez can and will change that. 39% of Tristan’s total career rebounds were offensive, while 35% of Harrell’s are. For Anthony Davis, the percentage is 25%.
As the game went on, a connection between Dennis and Montrezl began to formulate. Midway through the 3rd quarter, within a span of minutes, Harrell had a putback on a missed shot by Dennis, and then Dennis immediately fed a diving Harrell for an and-one.
The chemistry between the two became more apparent towards the end of the game when Schröder continued to feed Montrezl diving to the hoop to get easy buckets at the rim. Montrezl finished with 17 and 10 on an efficient 6-7 from the field.
The two new Lakers showed, even in a loss, why they were brought onto the team, and what potential they have to contribute to the team on the journey to defend their championship.
Look for Dennis Schröder and Montrezl Harrell to continue to improve their individual games as well as their chemistry throughout the season. While it will not always show on the stat sheets, DS17 and Trez bring unique play-styles with their games that will seriously help the Los Angeles Lakers on their goal to repeat.
The one-two punch of LeBron and AD will see help down the road with another exciting and deadly “three-four” combo of Schröder and Trez.
Even though they lost, Lakers fans need to put the opening night loss behind them and look ahead to the next 71 games. If they learned anything from today, it should be that their two big FA acquisitions came to play this season, and they will be needed and relied on as they improve throughout the course of the 2020-2021 NBA season.
The Los Angeles Lakers will look to bounce back and get a win on national TV on Christmas Day when they take on the MVP betting favorite Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. Tip-off is set for 5PM PT/8PM EST.