It was a back-and-forth affair the entire night as both teams caught fire from the field and got anything they wanted nearly every possession. Neither team was able to truly pull away until the Lakers managed to go on a quick 9-2 run late in the fourth quarter to put them up for good.
In a game that LeBron James and Davis played relatively average by their standards, Kyle Kuzma stepped up in a big way as he poured in 23 points in 25 minutes with a little over a third of those points coming in the fourth quarter. His shotmaking has always been his primary strength and it was a welcomed sight to see in such a close game.
Davis seemed to come away impressed with Kuzma’s performance, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“He made some big-time plays tonight. He’s starting to get into a groove, starting to find his rhythm. The more he’s able to play like that, the harder it’s going to be for us to be beat. He stepped up tonight, took all his shots in rhythm.”
After a rough outing against the Toronto Raptors where Kuzma failed to make much of an impact, he got rolling early, managing to convert on several tough floaters and layups. However, his biggest moment came with roughly two minutes left in the game as he knocked down two clutch three-pointers that pushed the Lakers lead to seven.
Prior to the game against the Suns, Kuzma had been struggling shooting from the perimeter to start the season, so to see him hit shots in a tightly contested game bodes well for his confidence going forward. His outside shooting could very well be the key to the team’s offense given how much attention Davis and James will draw.
Kuzma undeniably has a lot of eyes on him during the season as the front office was adamant about keeping him out of any potential deals to acquire Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.
All the young players given away in that deal (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart) would have made for strong role players next to Davis and James, so Kuzma has to prove that his scoring prowess and shooting improvement are worth the team’s investment in him.