WATCH: Kyle Kuzma Literally Pushes LeBron James to Play Defense

Kyle Kuzma Pushes LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers, who pushed LeBron James during the game to play defense, high fiving Javale McGee

On a night that saw the Los Angeles Lakers give up nearly 100 points through their first three quarters, a lack of defensive effort was a major factor in the loss. Kyle Kuzma would eventually leave the game with an ankle injury, but not before at one point physically pushing LeBron James on defense to close out a Danilo Gallinari three-pointer.

Despite being down double digits early in the fourth quarter, the Lakers would mount a comeback effort that fell short after Kuzma would leave the game. LeBron James and Rajon Rondo both had stellar games offensively, but a combination of minimal defense and inefficient shooting from the supporting cast doomed the Lakers chances.

Kyle Kuzma Injured During Fourth Quarter Push

As if seeing their playoff chances evaporate in the loss wasn’t enough, the Lakers also lost Kyle Kuzma to an apparent non-contact ankle injury. Coach Luke Walton went as far to say that Kuzma was “limping pretty badly” and that he likely would not be expected to play in Wednesday’s matchup.

The loss of Kuzma coupled with the playoff implications from the loss to the Clippers makes for a tough night for Laker fans. Now almost certainly on the outside looking in at the playoffs with Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma on the shelf with an injury, there aren’t many bright spots in Laker-land.

Kuzma was well enough to give a post-game interview at his locker and talked primarily about his desire to focus on getting back healthy and simply improving on a day to day basis. To his credit, Kuzma did a great job at avoiding questions regarding the Lakers playoff chances.

LeBron James to potentially miss NBA Playoffs for the first time in 14 years

LeBron  James Lakers Loss

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, who was pushed by Kyle Kuzma to play defense, hangs his head in defeat.

With the loss all but eliminating the Lakers from playoff contention, LeBron James faces the fact that he may be on the outside looking in come May. LeBron hasn’t missed the playoffs since the 2004-2005 season, his second in the NBA. While the Lakers have been plagued by injuries over the course of the year, the roster is far more talented than many of the weak early Cleveland Cavalier rosters that LeBron willed to the playoffs. Arguably, the roster is more talented than LeBron’s 2007 Eastern Conference Championship team.

Unfortunately, the Lakers have been unable to find their footing on the season and while showing flashes of being a competent basketball team, have been unable to do so consistently. That lack of consistency on both ends of the basketball has caused the Lakers to drop winnable games to teams like the Cavaliers, Knicks, and Suns. While early in the year the Lakers could write those losses off as “growing pains”, those games added up as the season went on and have come back to bite the Lakers hard.

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