The Los Angeles Lakers fell short on the road to the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday night, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.
The team battled all night, making the defending Eastern Conference Champions earn a hard-fought victory. One of the Lakers’ best players on this night was rookie Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers’ leading scorer heading into the game, Kuzma finished with 20 points and seven rebounds on the night, once again showing off his impressive array of moves.
Despite being matched up with physical forwards like LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Jae Crowder all night, Kuzma never backed down. After the game, head coach Luke Walton praised the rookie for his heart and competitiveness via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Kuz’s competitiveness is so fun to watch the way he goes after it. I keep telling him he’s got to learn when it’s a good shot and when it’s a quick pass on. But he’ll get there. I love his heart and the way he competes.”
As Walton notes, there are undoubtedly some things Kuzma needs to work on, as he can force up quick shots at times. His defensive effort can also fluctuate at times. Nonetheless, he has yet to show any fear or timidness regardless of who he is matched up with.
Kuzma has proven himself to be a player worth building around. He won Western Conference Rookie of the Month for November and continues to contribute whether he is starting or coming off the bench. Kuzma is also among the Lakers leaders in minutes, showing that Walton trusts him more often than not down the stretch.
There is still room for Kuzma to grow and Walton understands that. Once Kuzma gets a better grasp on those things Walton is talking about, it will make him an even more effective scorer and help the Lakers’ offense overall.
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