With Anthony Davis missing his fifth consecutive game due to a lower back injury, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers needed a complete team effort to overcome a Houston Rockets team desperate for a win.
After a disappointing 119-118 loss to the Orlando Magic in their previous outing, everyone came together to put forth one of their most impressive performances of the 2019-20 NBA season in a 124-115 win in Houston.
Of course, James was his usual dominant self with 31 points and 12 assists, but it was the role players who stepped up in the absence of their other All-Star player. Kyle Kuzma finished with 23 points and eight rebounds, Danny Green added 20 points and four steals, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 20 points off the bench.
Los Angeles also got major contributions from Dwight Howard (six points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals) and Alex Caruso (four points and six rebounds) while their defense was its usual dominant self.
Aside from Russell Westbrook who scored 35 points on 15-23 shooting from the field, the rest of the Rockets shot just 37.3 percent from the field. The Lakers also forced 20 turnovers while tallying 13 steals and nine blocks led by three each from Howard and JaVale McGee. However, it was Kuzma who got a ton of praise on this night.
With the Lakers trailing by six points at halftime and Westbrook already at 23 points, it was Kuzma who took on the challenge of containing the former 2016-17 NBA Most Valuable Player. Kuzma did an excellent job of defending Westbrook and sparked the Lakers, leading to a 32-17 third quarter that was ultimately the difference in the game.
Much of the attention naturally goes on the team’s two All-Star players and rightfully so but when someone has gone down, the role players have stepped up. The Lakers depth has been questioned at different points throughout the season, but they proved this game they can deliver when needed — even in a hostile environment like Houston.