The Los Angeles Lakers are built around their two All-Star players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the 2019-20 NBA season, so getting a dominant road win against a playoff team without either would seem impossible.
Except it was not as Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, and the Lakers destroyed Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena with a 125-110 win with both James (cold) and Davis (glute) in street clothes.
Both Kuzma and Rondo put forth one of their best performances of the young season. Kuzma led Los Angeles with 36 points (15-of-24 shooting from the field) and seven rebounds while Rondo nearly notched a triple-double (21 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists). Overall, seven Lakers scored in double-figures including four off the bench.
The Lakers put this game away immediately, leading 41-19 after the first quarter and then 73-49 at halftime. They pushed the lead as high as 32 points in the third quarter and the Thunder never got the deficit under double-digits.
For Kuzma and Rondo to perform at such a high level did a lot to calm their doubters. The pair has been the most scrutinized players on the team for their inconsistent performances this season, but this game against the Thunder did a lot to show that they can deliver when the pressure is on — especially without both James and Davis.
The bench was outstanding with little-used reserves stepping up. Quinn Cook (13 points) and Troy Daniels (12 points) provided scoring while Dwight Howard finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Alex Caruso added 11.
While it has usually been the team’s defense to carry them, it was the offense that stood out in this game. The Lakers shot 51.5 percent from the field and knocked down 15 three-pointers. They also dominated the glass, outrebounding Oklahoma City 54-37 (including 12 offensive rebounds) and turned the ball over just 12 times.
While everyone believes in James and Davis, there have been a lot of questions about whether the Lakers have enough throughout the rest of their roster to win the 2020 NBA Finals. This game silenced a lot of doubters.