Dennis Schroder and Kyrie Irving ejected as Lakers roll to blowout win over Nets

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Dan Woike
·5 min read
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The Lakers' Dennis Schroder (17) and the Nets' Kyrie Irving (11) have words in the third quarter April 10, 2021.
The Lakers' Dennis Schroder and the Nets' Kyrie Irving (11) have words early in the third quarter Saturday night. Both players were ejected. Schroder scored 19 points in the 126-101 win. (Elsa Garrison / Getty Images)

Before the Lakers hosted Brooklyn at Staples Center nearly two months ago, coach Frank Vogel said he was excited to watch his new point guard, Dennis Schroder, try to pester Nets star Kyrie Irving.

“They’re prolific on the offensive side of the ball so it’s gonna be a good challenge for our defense,” Vogel said that day. “Looking forward to seeing the Dennis Schroder-Kyrie Irving matchup. I think that’s one that Dennis gives us a different dynamic this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing that.”

Within the next hour, Vogel learned he’d be without Schroder because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, that potential matchup put on hold until Saturday in Brooklyn.

Who knew getting it yanked away once again would help the Lakers get a lopsided 126-101 victory?

“That’s the best win of the year,” Schroder said after watching the second half of a key win in the Lakers’ quest to avoid free-falling in the standings.

Schroder and Irving, dueling in an entertaining showdown between point guards, both were ejected early in the third quarter — each called for two technical fouls for what appeared to be just heated trash-talking.

Schroder said he said “bye” to Irving after Irving got his second technical foul, while maybe adding a wave. Schroder was then ejected as well. Officials confirmed Schroder was ejected for taunting.

Leading 66-62 when the players were tossed, the Lakers quickly pushed that lead to 25 thanks to hot shooting from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ben McLemore. After the ejections, the Lakers outscored Brooklyn 60-39.

For the Lakers, it was another all-time great streak. The organization that once won 33 straight games has had a different player kicked out three games in a row.

The Lakers' Andre Drummond is defended by several Brooklyn Nets during the first half April 10, 2021.
Lakers center Andre Drummond, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds, is defended by several Nets players in the first half. (Corey Sipkin / Associated Press)

The look at Schroder against the Nets had to be promising, the team’s new point guard cutting up Brooklyn’s spotty defense in pick-and-roll pairings with Andre Drummond and the rest of the Lakers’ bigs.

Schroder had 19 points before he got tossed — Irving had 18 — hitting seven of 11 shots. Drummond, in his second game back after injuring a toe, scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The new Lakers center gathered his teammates after Schroder and Irving were ejected, warning about a possible push by the Nets, which they could curtail by reinforcing their defensive intensity and presence.

The Nets scored only 15 points in the final 11 minutes of the third quarter.

“We’re playing scrappy as hell defensively,” Vogel said in a postgame videoconference.

With Drummond softening the Nets’ defense on the inside, the Lakers’ usually spotty three-point shooting surged. Eight Lakers scored in double figures, McLemore scoring all 17 of his points in the second half.

Maybe there are lessons to be learned from the win, the Lakers’ first over a bona-fide contender since the team lost Anthony Davis and LeBron James to injury.

Or maybe the latest round of Lakers-Nets won’t offer much to any possible NBA Finals preparation, considering how disjointed the rosters are.

Kyle Kuzma missed his second game in a row with a calf strain. Marc Gasol wasn’t available because of a sore hamstring. And Wesley Matthews, who was in the starting lineup Thursday in Miami, was a late scratch with a sore Achilles tendon. Schroder also got banged up in the first half, an awkward landing on his tailbone, sending him limping briefly to the bench.

The Nets weren’t whole either. The Lakers’ defense, which was fantastic once again, had it a little easier with James Harden out and Kevin Durant still working his way back from a hamstring injury. Add in Irving being able to take the early train from the Barclays subway station, and the Nets that closed the game certainly were diminished from the version the Lakers could see down the road.

But forgetting about the long term, there’s plenty to celebrate in the present, the Lakers overcoming crippling absences from their lineup to mostly dominate the Eastern Conference favorites.

Lakers newcomer Ben McLemore celebrates a three-pointer in the fourth quarter.
Lakers newcomer Ben McLemore celebrates a three-pointer in the fourth quarter. He finished with 17 points and five threes — all after halftime. (Elsa Garrison / Getty Images)

And if these teams see each other again, Vogel finally got a preview of what he wanted to see — his point guard refusing to back down from one of the NBA’s best.

“I love Dennis Schroder. I think that’s the first thing you have to state — his competitive spirit, his fight, his swag. I think that wins for you,” Vogel said. “And that’s the preview of the matchup. That’s going to be a dynamic matchup if we’re going to see it again this season. Two great players that can do it on both sides of the ball. Kyrie, obviously, is as good as it gets. You need somebody like Dennis who can hold his own defensively.

“No one can stop Kyrie, but you need somebody who can hold his own and who can go back at him on the other end. I thought Dennis, before the ejection, did both of those things.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.