With just eight healthy bodies, the Los Angeles Lakers were in need some big performances to come up with a win, even against the lowly Memphis Grizzlies. Thankfully, Kyle Kuzma was up to the task down the stretch.
Kuzma scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 25 overall, adding 10 rebounds, as the Lakers escaped with a 100-93 victory. The Lakers trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half and the win was the the team’s first in Memphis since 2013.
The rookie took over in the final quarter, knocking down a 3-pointer to give the Lakers their first lead since 2-0. Kuzma followed it with a pull-up midrange jumper and a running hook. And when the Lakers needed it most, he calmly knocked down a dagger three with under a minute left.
Kuzma’s frontcourt partner, Julius Randle, also had another double-double, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds despite dealing with a lack of foul calls all night. Randle also rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter but never left the game.
Lonzo Ball continued to struggle with his outside shot (1-for-6 from deep), but did a much better job of attacking the basket while keeping up the rest of his game. In the end he nearly notched a triple-double, finishing with 12 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continued his excellent play of late with 18 points, but it was the contributions of two bench players that may have been key. Travis Wear scored 11 points in 19 minutes while Tyler Ennis had six points and three assists.
It provided the Lakers with much-needed production from the only two bench players head coach Luke Walton seemingly trusted. Ivica Zubac played just four minutes.
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