While it was LeBron James who put up a third straight triple-double in the Los Angeles Lakers comeback win against the Chicago Bulls, it was Kyle Kuzma who actually led the comeback effort with James and Anthony Davis on the bench.
Kuzma has struggled early on to regain his footing since returning from a stress reaction in his left foot that sidelined him for nearly two months, causing him to miss all of 2019 NBA training camp, 2019 NBA preseason, and the first four games of the 2019-20 NBA season.
The struggles continued in the first half of the Bulls game, but it was the beginning of the fourth quarter when it seemed to click for him, leading to the comeback.
James spoke about what changed for Kuzma in the fourth quarter and what led to his great performance that helped the Lakers storm back from down 19 points, according to Spectrum SportsNet:
“I think he just slowed down in the second half. I think that’s the Kuz we know and I think in the first half he was rushing a little bit. He had a couple turnovers and was just playing a bit too fast. And one thing for him, he can’t try to get all the way back in the first couple games, he has to slowly continue to get back. I mean, he hasn’t played since before he stopped playing USA basketball. So, as a competitor, it’s good to see this. I know that as well. I tried to get it all back last year after I tore my groin in that first game back… the Clippers game. The rhythm will be off a little bit and you just have to continue to go through it, but Kuz is going to be a great piece for our team and he showed tonight why. Offensively and defensively, he was just so in tune and with everybody else on the floor as well.”
James knows first hand what trying to ‘get it all back’ can do as it led him to play sluggish and bad basketball when he returned last season.
As a result, it will be great for Kuzma to have him there to help him come back slowly.
The win against the Bulls was a great start and now Kuzma must continue to work until he can be a consistent key member of this clearly special team.