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With LeBron James out, Lakers feel a renewed sense of accountability

Hello everyone, welcome to the LA Times’ Lakers Newsletter. It’s Dan Woike, and while I’m not an injury expert, I’ve always thought of myself as “day to day.” This week we’re going to take a look at the latest LeBron James news, what it could mean for the team’s playoff push and the unlikely player who could see the Lakers through it.

James out for at least three weeks

The Lakers officially announced LeBron James’ foot injury Thursday, five days after he went down on the field in Dallas with a non-contact injury to his right foot.

While the Lakers offered few details — James has a “tendon injury on his right foot” — the team said he would be evaluated in about three weeks.

The Lakers will play ten games in the next three weeks, eight of which will be in Los Angeles.

James posted a video of himself in a vortex on Thursday with “road to recovery” written on it to mark his first day of rehabilitation from the injury.

While initial injury news was disappointing, there was never any panic in the Lakers locker room. The Lakers, who started 11th in the West on Thursday, are well away from a postseason spot.

And with so many teams huddled together (often playing against each other), there’s not much fear of a bunch of teams running away from the back of the pack.

That said, there is still internal pressure to perform…and curious if the Lakers can respond to that pressure like Dennis Schroder did on Wednesday.

After the Lakers lost to Memphis on Tuesday amid a deluge of turnovers, Schroder called Wednesday’s game at the Thunder a “must win.” And then, in the first half, Schroder missed his first six shots and rolled his ankle, the Lakers trailing Oklahoma City by as many as eight.

After frustration led to many court talks in Memphis, the Lakers were able to discuss their issues again. Schroder was up front and led the Lakers without Anthony Davis to victory behind his 22 points in the second half.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder controls the ball against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

(LM Otero/Associated Press)

“I think everyone just holds everyone accountable,” Schroder said of the team. “I can go to the AD and say, ‘Listen, you’re not doing this, you have to get better.’ And he comes up to me and says, “Yeah, okay. I’ll do it next time.” “I think the accountability in this dressing room has gotten better. Everyone looks at themselves before they speak. And I think that’s what a real team is all about.”

Schroder acknowledged that he was comfortable with the absence of the Lakers’ stars.

“I can play as if I were in Germany. Play freely,” he said. “I can play my part when everyone is there and do my best when the team is there, but when I have the ball in my hands, I can also a lot of. Of course it is bad that they are injured and AD was out, but it is always nice when I also get the ball – and we win.”

It was his play at the European Championships this summer that earned him attention as the Lakers starting point guard. The team’s trade for D’Angelo Russell returned him to the bench, but with Russell out with an ankle injury, Schroder helped the team to 2–1.

He was the first name Darvin Ham mentioned after the Lakers defeated the Thunder.

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“Well, I think having a competitor like Dennis Schroder, the way he… Those of us who are basketball fanatics and watch it in the season and the off-season at different levels, if someone saw how he played his national team this summer, should this show tonight it wouldn’t surprise them at all,” Ham said. “He’s done a great job as leader. A man with probably the most mileage of anyone in this league. And especially at rest.

“He had a difficult first half but he made the right adjustments, picked it up defensively after spraining his ankle and really led the whole group.”

Schroder said he wasn’t too worried about his ankle — he’s a quick healer, he said.

“I mean, we just want to keep going,” Schroder said. “Our goal at the start of the season was to make the playoffs. And that still is now. And I think with the trades we made, the people coming in, they got the same mindset, the coach got a clear message and I think everybody’s on the same page.

Song of the week

“Home Sweet Home” by Mötley Crüe

Note of thanks

Thanks to the generosity of mco worker Broderick Turner, I won’t be on the road with the Lakers until their final trip of the season, which means I get more than four weeks here in Los Angeles. The good news for the Lakers: they are only two games away in that trajectory. It’s an opportunity for the team to get their playoff push right here in their home city, and this is the perfect power ballad to commemorate that opportunity.

In case you missed it

Dennis Schroder urges Lakers to ‘have to win’ Thunder

LeBron-less Lakers can’t keep up with Ja Morant, Grizzlies

LeBron James will miss the Lakers game on Tuesday and possibly more

‘We keep going’: Lakers takeaways after beating Dallas

Lakers clear a 27-point deficit to beat the Mavericks

Lakers-Warriors takeaways: Austin Reaves, Malik Beasley make their mark