The current iteration of the Cleveland Cavaliers is not the same juggernaut LeBron James has led in season’s past, but a win against them can be considered a nice feather in the cap for the Los Angeles Lakers. Unless you’re Kyle Kuzma.
“They didn’t really have their players,” he said at Monday’s practice. “They played their two-way guys, Zizic, so I wouldn’t really put too much stock into it. If they had Rodney Hood, Tristan and K-Love, it might have been a different story.”
While Kuzma is correct in highlighting the players the Cavaliers didn’t have available, the Lakers themselves were without Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram. They were able to overcome the injuries behind a focused, collective effort.
“He really preaches having mature wins,” said Kuzma of Lakers head coach Luke Walton. “You take care of business the right way. You’re not turning the ball over, you’re making free throws, that’s a mature win.”
The Lakers made 18 of 20 attempts at the free throw line, an impressive 90 percent for a team that’s sorely struggled in that area. And they turned the ball over 13 times, to 12 for the Cavaliers.
Now at 30 wins, mathematically, the Lakers still have plenty to play for. In practicality, making the playoffs is an unlikely scenario. Yet the young team continues to push ahead, putting their best foot forward in what’s been an encouraging season.
“I want to win, so I come out every game and try to win,” Kuzma said of remaining motivated. “That’s pretty much our goal. It may be tough to make the playoffs. It’s no secret. But we still want to win.”