Kyle Kuzma became the fourth Los Angeles Lakers player to participate in annual Skills Challenge on NBA All-Star Saturday Night, but the team remains without a champion. Karl-Anthony Towns and rapper Ludacris picked numbers at random to determine the first-round matchups, which were only guaranteed to set the stage for a guard facing a frontcourt player in the championship.
Under the tournament format (adopted in 2015), Kuzma drew Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic in the first round. Kuzma kept pace with Doncic through the passing and dribbling portion but lost as both players franticly put up three-point shots.
Kuzma failed to improve on the Lakers’ last representative, as Jordan Clarkson was eliminated in the first round in 2016 when All-Star Weekend was held in Toronto. Derek Fisher represented the Lakers as the host team in 2004, advancing to the final round before falling to Baron Davis.
Kobe Bryant was part of a stacked field, competing against the likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade (defending champion) during 2007 All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. Bryant posted the best time in the first round but fell to Wade for the Skills Challenge trophy.
Luka's just having fun with it! 😃
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 17, 2019
While Kuzma came up short in the Skills Challenge, he did earn MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars MVP, scoring 35 points and breaking a Lakers scoring record that Bryant held (31 points). Having competed in the Rising Stars in each of the two years he was eligible, Kuzma is now focused on reaching the All-Star Game.
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