One constant for Los Angeles Lakers rookie forward Kyle Kuzma has been his reluctance, or refusal, to succumb to fatigue or injury. Kuzma on several occasions has stated he would much rather play 40 minutes a game instead of 20 when asked if he’s felt worn out.
That’s what made Friday’s sequence all the more jarring when Kuzma told Lakers head coach Luke Walton he needed out of the game in the third quarter. “A timeout happened and I had someone coming in for him, and as he walked by me, said, ‘Coach, you’ve got to get me out.’ He plays through a lot and he wants to stay out on the floor,” Walton said after his team’s loss.
Kuzma suffered a mild left ankle sprain in the second quarter but returned to action. That was until he could no longer play though two sprained ankles; he injured the right one in mid-March and missed one game because of the sprain.
“Throbbing. It was just really throbbing,” Kuzma said of the state of his ankle when uncharacteristically asking out of the game. “It was a little different than my last one. My last one was an inside sprain. This is an outside sprain, so it’s two different types of feelings.”
Kuzma finished with just two points on 1-for-6 shooting. His stretch with at least 10 points was snapped at 20 games.
Despite this being the most basketball he’s ever played, Kuzma considers his overall health to be in relative good standing. “My body feels great,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s just my ankles right now.”
Walton said the decision for Kuzma to continue playing through a previously sprained right ankle was a collaborative one that was backed by his performance. “He wanted to play and he showed through the training room and by the way he was playing, there was no concern with it,” Walton said.
Whether Kuzma will appear in any of the Lakers’ remaining three games is unclear, however. X-rays on his left ankle came back negative and Kuzma is listed as day-to-day.
“I’m the worst person to ask that question,” he answered when asked about his availability moving forward. “I don’t know.”