Julius Randle and the Los Angeles Lakers got revenge on Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets in their 112-103 win Tuesday night, with Kyle Kuzma going off despite a bum ankle to pour in 26 points on 50 percent shooting while snaring 13 rebounds.
Kuzma did most of his damage down the stretch, scoring 24 of his points in the second half, including five 3-pointers. He hardly looked like a player who had to get X-Rays on his right ankle (that ultimately came back negative).
The performance was a figurative vault over the rookie wall for the first-year forward, and the Nuggets bore the brunt of his renewed breakout while falling out of the playoff race as Kuzma eviscerated them in the loss.
Randle was no slouch in the win, either, rumbling his way to an identical 26 points and 13 rebounds while shooting 4-of-5 in the fourth quarter as the Lakers ran away with the game.
The Lakers’ starting power forward showed the full extent of how much his skill set has grown in the final frame, pressuring Murray into a turnover before icing the game with an emphatic dunk. Randle tussled with Nikola Jokic in the final seconds, but nothing came of it.
When Kuzma and Randle play this well, Los Angeles has as good of a power forward duo as any team in the NBA. Isaiah Thomas had 23 points off the bench, making clutch shots in the final minutes to help the Lakers stave off a Nuggets’ rally.
Next is a matchup with the Golden State Warriors for the second of a back-to-back. Both teams head into Wednesday’s game dealing with an array of injuries.