When the Los Angeles Lakers roared out to the best record in the NBA to start the 2019-20 NBA season, many detractors were quick to point out their soft schedule.
Only three of their 15 games in November came against winning teams and some questioned just how good Los Angeles really was.
A three-game road trip with back-to-back games against the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz followed by a game against the surging Trail Blazers seemed like it could expose these Lakers. Instead, they swept the trip, winning the three contests by a combined 57 points.
While some on the team chose not to address the doubters, others had no problems facing them head on. Kyle Kuzma was one of those in the latter group, believing that some people are probably just jealous of the team’s success, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic:
“Everybody is just going to say something about us just because we’re the Lakers and we’re winning,” Kyle Kuzma said. “A lot of people are probably jealous of us.”
Kuzma would continue, noting the Lakers have played their share of difficult road games:
“We’ve played a lot of teams. We played a lot of tough road games,” Kuzma said. “It’s tough to win in San Antonio, tough to win in Denver, tough to win in Utah, tough to win in Dallas.”
While the Lakers haven’t had the toughest schedule and December will definitely be a step up in competition, Kuzma is right in that they do have some tough road wins.
The San Antonio Spurs may be struggling, but they hold recent home wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets. The Lakers have beaten them twice in San Antonio.
The same goes for Portland who had won four out of five games and have always been a tough place for the Lakers to get a win. Utah and Denver had three combined home losses and are known for their homecourt advantage, but the Lakers scored back-to-back wins there.
This month will provide a major test with road games against the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, and Milwaukee Bucks — not to mention home games against the Nuggets, Mavericks, and the highly-anticipated Christmas Day showdown with the Clippers.
While many of the team’s toughest games are still ahead of them, talks of them being overrated because of their schedule is a bit unfair as Kuzma noted. There will always be those who find things to criticize, but this team is focused simply on winning the game directly in front of them.