With Anthony Davis sitting out for the second straight game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel turned to Kyle Kuzma to fill the void and hopefully give the starters a bit of a boost.
That didn’t work out as the Lakers trailed by 14 after the first quarter and by as many as 20 overall. L.A. again was able to come back and win the game 114-113, but they needed overtime to do so despite the Thunder being without their best player in point guard Shai Gilgious-Alexander.
Kuzma had a good performance with 15 points and nine rebounds, but it was the Lakers’ third straight game needing extra time to get the win after going to overtime just twice all of last season.
Even though the Lakers have come away with wins in all of these games, the feeling coming out of them hasn’t been great and Kuzma spoke to that following the win, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“That’s something we have to address, obviously. Three straight overtimes, no matter if it’s a win or whatever, is kind of unacceptable by our standards. But I think we did a good job of getting timely stops and hit a few baskets.”
One of the things that is likely driving this feeling is the Lakers’ opposition in these games. The Detroit Pistons have the worst record in the Eastern Conference. The Thunder, while an extremely feisty team, do own the second-worst record in the West.
Furthermore, Oklahoma City being without Gilgious-Alexander and several other players should have made the contest an easy victory for the Lakers.
Instead, the Lakers again got out to an extremely slow start, which has been the case seemingly in the majority of games this season. They also struggled to protect the interior, again an ongoing issue, as the Thunder finished with 66 paint points.
Overall, the Lakers’ defense has slacked off during this stretch as they allowed a career-high 24 points to OKC’s Kenrich Williams, 21 points and 16 rebounds to Darius Bazley in the prior game against the Thunder, and 28 points to Josh Jackson in the game against the Pistons.
When the Lakers have focused, they have looked far and away like the best team in the league, but they have been extremely inconsistent, especially recently. Even as the team continues to win their performance has simply not been up to par, which is surely why Kuzma feels the way he does about these overtime games.
LeBron James happy Lakers being ‘tested’
Kuzma and the Lakers may not be happy with their ongoing streak of overtime games, but it is forcing the Lakers to execute in crunch time, which is something LeBron James is happy with.
“Every game is going to be its own challenge. We don’t mind playing games that go down to the wire, we don’t mind playing games where you’ve got to execute,” James said. “We have that championship DNA. I mean, it’s good for us to be tested.
“I love that no matter who you’re playing against. Teams that take you down to wire, make you execute, you have to be perfect defensively and offensively to win a game. It’s pretty cool. I love it.”
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