The Los Angeles Lakers finally got back into the win column, blowing out the Sacramento Kings on Friday night and holding onto the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
The Lakers got off to another slow start as they were careless with the basketball and allowed the Kings to rattle off a run at the end of the first to keep it competitive. However, Los Angles quickly rectified their poor effort and focus and executed on both ends to open up a double-digit lead at halftime.
The team continued their strong play in the second half, holding off the Kings anytime they threatened them with a run. The fourth quarter was not much of a contest as the Lakers took complete control of the game and never looked back.
Kyle Kuzma led all scorers with 30 points while adding five rebounds and three assists. The young forward believes that this game was the best the team has looked since LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been sidelined.
“I think we just got to continue to have confidence and continue to play the right way,” Kuzma said. “I think this was probably our best game with all those guys out of the season from the standpoint of playing the right way and doing it for 48 minutes.
“I think from the jump we did a great job making that extra pass. Obviously defensively, holding a team under 100 is what you want to do every time out. But even going into that second half, trusting the pass, trusting your teammate and we made shots. So I think those were the factors.”
Kuzma had been slumping a bit from the field, but noted that he was never concerned with how he had been shooting. “I put in a lot of work in this game. I love this game, I love being in the gym and it’s gonna come back around. It’s gonna come back around so I had three rough games shooting the ball, but I like my shots.
“Just have to get the mechanics right and just keep letting it fly. Take good ones and they fell tonight.”
The 25-year-old has embraced his shapeshifting role on the roster and with James and Davis still slated to miss time, they will need his scoring to keep them in games most night. Although Kuzma carried the offense for most of the night, the rest of the Lakers pulled their weight and put together their most complete effort in some time.
Los Angeles needed this win against Sacramento because their schedule for the next couple of weeks is daunting. The Lakers have shown they can hang with most teams due to their elite defense, but offensively they are prone to droughts and their margin for error is incredibly slim.
If the Purple and Gold can tread water until their superstars return, that should be considered a major win. Hopefully this recent win gives them the momentum they need to upset the L.A. Clippers on Sunday afternoon.
Kuzma taking pride in his defense
Aside from scoring, Kuzma did an excellent job defending Buddy Hield, who only scored seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. After the game, Kuzma acknowledged he is relishing his defensive improvement.
“Yeah, I take pride on the defensive end going back to last season. It’s all about growth. I think over the past four years I’ve done a great job of just trusting the process and just listening to coaches and applying.
“I think now I’m slowly becoming an all-around player, being able to play make, being able to score still, play defense, rebound. That’s just my focus and that’s why I want to be here so I can continue to learn and learn from the great players ahead of me. I just love this game.”
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