The Los Angeles Lakers will need a little time to adjust to life without LeBron James, according to head coach Frank Vogel, though their sidelined star was present for Sunday's loss to the Phoenix Suns.
James is out indefinitely due to an ankle injury but still travelled to Phoenix to support his team, along with Anthony Davis, who is also currently out.
The duo watched on as the Lakers slipped to a 111-94 defeat on the road, despite 23 points from Montrezl Harrell on 10-of-13 shooting. Dennis Schroder, meanwhile, contributed 22 points.
Vogel explained afterwards how point guard Schroder is set to become the "head of the snake" in the absence of the team's two leading names, with the reigning NBA champions now 0-2 when playing without LeBron this season.
"I think our guys really fought tonight," Vogel said. "We didn't shoot the ball that well, but I thought we competed at a very high level.
"It is going to take a little time as we adjust, figure out where the shots are coming from and what our new identity is going to look like."
He added in his post-game news conference: "Obviously, Dennis Schroder is going to be the head of the snake with the ball in his hands the most, dictating some of the action.
"But we've got a lot of veteran guys on this team that can lead, and we encourage our guys to lead from every chair in the room."
Schroder felt the presence of James – wearing a boot to protect the high ankle sprain he suffered in Saturday's game with the Atlanta Hawks – on the bench demonstrated the four-time MVP's commitment to the cause.
"In my career, I've seen people getting hurt and don't come on the road trip; and for him, being the best - one of the best who ever played this game - that you see him on the bench being there even if he's hurt, means a lot to me and all the other [players on this team] too," Schroder said.
It still remains unclear how long James will be sidelined; the 36-year-old was having an outstanding season prior to the injury, averaging 25.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists, putting him firmly in the MVP conversation.
As for Davis, he has not played since February 14 due to a calf issue.