Despite being shorthanded, the Los Angeles Lakers were nearly able to pull off a victory against a reeling Sacramento Kings team.
Although the loss was unfortunate, it officially concluded the Lakers’ first half of the 2020-21 season, which means they can finally get a well-deserved break. Los Angeles’ play had been slowly declining the past few months and it was apparent that the toll of a shortened offseason and the grind of playing nearly every other day had caught up with them.
The Lakers were billed as the consensus favorite to win the 2021 NBA Championship, but it was widely expected they would struggle a bit during the regular season because of all the factors working against them. After the game against the Kings, Kyle Kuzma acknowledged he thought the first half of the season was a good one for the Lakers despite the recent string of losses.
“I think it was a win, honestly,” Kuzma said. “For the first half of the season for us, we only had 71 days after winning a championship. Shortest offseason in NBA history, and for us to have an old veteran team and not a lot of time in that 71 days for offseason development to come in fight how we did all year and add new parts in, it’s a win.
“We had injuries, I’ve been banged up the past two-three weeks. Obviously, Bron playing through banged. A.D. and not having Dennis [Schroder]. It’s a win.”
Kuzma added that he is optimistic L.A. can get better once the second half of the season arrives.
“We just got to get healthy and I’m excited to see what our team does in the second half when everybody is back. Very excited.”
The short offseason, roster turnover and lack of practice time are all valid reasons to consider when evaluating how the Lakers looked. Throw in Anthony Davis’ calf injury and Dennis Schroder being held out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, there is reason to be optimistic for improvement heading into the second half of the season.
While it is easy to expect more from a championship-level roster, the Lakers are in a very good position when considering how teams from the bubble have fared. The Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics have not resembled the teams that made deep postseason runs last year, so the Lakers should feel fortunate to be where they are.
Kuzma can step up to be a scorer when needed
Kuzma has been a revelation for the Lakers this year as he has settled into his role as a defender and rebounder off the bench. However, he showed that is he more than capable of scoring when needed as he poured in 25 points on 10-of-20 from the field in the loss to the Kings.
“That’s just me,” Kuzma said. “I’m not just a rebounder or just a role player. I’ll fill in anywhere the team needs me. That’s just the type of person I am. I want to win games.
“Wherever the team needs me, they need me. I can still score if needed.”
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