The Los Angeles Lakers not only suffered a tough loss on the court to the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night, but they also suffered a big loss off it as starting power forward Larry Nance Jr. broke his hand and will be out 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery.
The Lakers did not have much time to think about Nance’s injury though as they returned to the court Friday when they hosted D’Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton had a tough decision to make in regards to who to start in Nance’s place, with the candidates being Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma, Corey Brewer and Luol Deng.
He ended up going with the rookie Kuzma, and it was the right decision as Kuzma scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds in the Lakers 124-112 win over Brooklyn.
After the game, Walton explained his reasoning behind starting Kuzma, with the primary reason being that he wanted to surround point guard Lonzo Ball with shooters, via Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell:
Part of why Walton started Kuzma: “The more shooting we get around Zo, the better Zo will be.” Also wanted energy after late night at POR.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 4, 2017
Kuzma showed that he has good chemistry with the starting unit, as his frontcourt mates Brook Lopez and Brandon Ingram also had good games. Lopez had his best game of the season with a game-high 34 points and 10 rebounds, knocking down six of his nine three-point attempts.
Ingram also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds while also adding two blocks and a steal.
Kuzma has been one of the biggest surprises so far this season in the NBA, and he will continue to see his opportunities grow as he already played a game-high 39 minutes in his first game as a starter.
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