Playing without both superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers faced a striking adjustment period in their absence, and Kyle Kuzma is confident in the direction the group is heading.
After a clutch win against the Charlotte Hornets, Alex Caruso dominated headlines with his late 3-pointer and pesky defense, but Kuzma and Dennis Schroder also stepped up to steer the Lakers to victory.
In a game that L.A. seemed to have won by the late stages of the fourth quarter, the Hornets made a sudden run that tested L.A.’s abilities to maintain a lead without their stars. Los Angeles succeeded, as they shared the ball and continued to play tremendous team defense to cap off their seven-game road trip with a 4-3 record.
The Lakers collided with many potential playoff teams in the Eastern Conference, and easy opponents were scarce. Kuzma explained how the team united to earn a record over .500 during the trip.
“We have champions on the roster, we got some hard, hard-playing players that want it,” Kuzma said. “I think we’ve done a great job in the past few games of really figuring out how to win games together. Figuring out how to play with one another, figuring out how to get wins.”
Kuzma added how the Lakers are eagerly anticipating the return of James and Davis because they’ll only become stronger as a group, given how they’ve performed without them.
“During this stretch, we’ve been really great defensively not having our voice out there in LeBron [James],” Kuzma said. “Someone that just erases mistakes with AD out there and for us to continue to do that without having those guys out there, it’s going to be scary for people when those guys get back. That’s giving us confidence and I think offensively we’ve really been subpar, honestly.
“But we’re just trying to make strides on that end and just trying to weather the storm. We’re doing that as much as we can and to go 4-3 on this road trip, that’s a win for us.”
Kuzma explains playing through pain during games
Kuzma has played in two games since returning from a calf injury, and he’s noticeably donned a brace to help tighten the muscle.
Despite a 24-point outing against the Hornets, the 6’10” forward said he’s still fighting through calf-related issues, but wants to help the team win.
“I had some pretty rough cramps going back to last game and it kind of carried over,” Kuzma said. “Bit me in the butt today. But I just fought through it, just tried to help the team out as much as I could. Just got through it.”
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