Even though the Los Angeles Lakers earned a split on the road in the first two games of their series against the Phoenix Suns, there was a lot left to be desired, particularly on the offensive end of the court.
A number of the Lakers’ role players struggled to get going offensively in both Games 1 and 2, with one of them being Kyle Kuzma.
In a combined 39 minutes across the two games, Kuzma scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting. Despite the poor shooting though, Kuzma has found other ways to impact the game, specifically with his defense, which he was able to take solace in when talking after Wednesday’s practice.
“My role on this team is not necessarily scoring the ball,” Kuzma said. “Obviously, coming from a depth standpoint, the ball hasn’t necessarily found me. That’s okay. I have trust that it will eventually, but my thing is obviously contributing on that defensive end like I have been. Just doing those little things to help us get wins playing championship-style basketball. I’m okay with that.”
Kuzma also added though that he understands he has to find ways to score the basketball.
“I’m always constantly trying to think and figure out ways. Obviously, it’s not ideal for me to go a game and only shoot the ball two or three times, obviously. Keeping it one hundred. I just got to find ways. I’m constantly moving on the court and just trusting that the ball and that energy of moving is going to find me. Whether that’s cutting to the middle of the rim, running the floor every time.
“Certain situations being aggressive, but making the right read. A bunch of plays this series I may get in the paint thinking to score, but a teammate open may not end up hitting me. That’s just the right basketball play and I’m fine with that. … Those plays add up. Just got to keep finding, keep trusting the ball is going to find me and hopefully it does.”
Head coach Frank Vogel also commented on Kuzma’s scoring struggles and says he’s going to make it a priority to get him going in Game 3.
“A little bit. A little bit more, there is a mindset on my part that we can get him in some more actions just because we know what he’s capable of,” Vogel said. “But his role on this team is to be a secondary scoring option and defending and rebound and make all the hustle plays and then finish when the ball swings to him. We play through Anthony and LeBron so much and even more so in the playoffs so there is a mindset to get him involved some but it’s not something that, we don’t want him forcing and we as a coaching staff don’t want to force-feed that type of action.
“There’s gonna be some games where he’s heavily involved and some games where he’s not. But if he defends and rebounds he’s helping us win and he had a great performance the other night without scoring a bunch of points, just doing all those intangible things that we talked about.”
Kuzma excited to play postseason game at Staples Center in front of fans
Perhaps one thing that can get Kuzma going is playing in front of the home crowd at Staples Center after two road games in a hostile environment. This is the Lakers’ first home playoff game since 2013, and Kuzma is looking forward to it.
“It’s going to be fun. Obviously not going to be the 20,000 we have at capacity. I’m not even sure it’s going to be like Phoenix from a capacity standpoint, but it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be really fun. I’m really excited for it. People are all excited for it. The organization is excited and there hasn’t really been a playoff game in seven, eight, nine years. We’re definitely happy.”
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