Kuzma scored 24 points — 20 in the first half alone — to help lead the Lakers to a 128-120 win. It was the second game in a row where he led the team in scoring.
Kuzma credited the big night to being healthy, having dealt with several injuries early this season that have limited his minutes and ability to get into a flow.
“Yeah, I’m just healthy now,” Kuzma told reporters after the game. “I’m confident in my body. I took a little bit of time off, sitting out for five games and really just self-collected what I needed to do and got it done.”
LeBron James — who is battling injuries of his own, including a groin contusion — doled out a season-high 16 assists and aded 21 points and seven rebounds in 37 minutes of work.
After the game, James praised Kuzma for his efficiency and proving that he can be a third option that the team desperately needs.
“We want him to be that third scorer for us,” James told Bill Oram of The Athletic. “Someone that can consistently get the 18 to 20 points a night, but more importantly, you know, it’s just the efficiency right now that I love. He’s just been very efficient mixing it up with his 3s, with his paint touches. You saw it tonight on the break as well. Just mixing it up.”
Kyle Kuzma Clears Air With LeBron James
The big game was a response to some adversity for Kuzma, who was caught up with some social media drama heading into the contest.
His trainer Clint Parks ripped James for an apparent lack of work ethic on Instagram after the Lakers’ Christmas Day loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and Kawhi Leonard.
“Watching Kawhi highlights from yesterday. NOBODY wants to speak on how sharp his skill set is compared to Lebrons. It’s clear who’s really in the LAB and who isn’t. Let me hear the excuses I’m on vacation I got nothing but time,” Parks wrote. “Turn the film on. Somebody was dodging SMOKE yesterday and it wasn’t Kawhi.”
Kuzma then fired off an ill-timed tweet that read “call a spade a spade,” then deleting the tweet, stirring up more drama. He addressed the issue prior to the game against the Blazers.
“No correlation. I didn’t even see what he said at first,” Kuzma said, via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. “Obviously you guys see, I tweet things all the time. So definitely not about that. Why would I even do that? Makes no sense.”
“I just told [LeBron] that I can’t control what another man says,” Kuzma added. “Obviously I don’t feel that way. Everybody knows that me and LeBron have a great relationship and left it at that. can’t control another man’s mouth and what they say so we left it at that.”
James said he and Kuzma talked it out and were good.
“ Everyone can have their own opinion,” James told reporters. “Any time someone wants to get some notoriety they can throw my name in and people are gonna pick it up. that’s why you’re asking me about it. Because my name was in it. I’ve never met the guy, I don’t know the guy, I could care less for the guy. Whatever the case may be, I wish him the best.”
LeBron James Expected to Play Against Mavericks
James has been dealing with a groin injury but said he was planning to play on the back end of a back-to-back against the Mavericks on Sunday night.
“I plan on it,” he told reporters after the game. “As long as this ice takes care of its business and I wake up comfortably and healthy, yeah.”
Anthony Davis banged up his shoulder against the Blazers, but also has plans to suit up against Dallas.
The Lakers are four-point favorites against the Mavs, who beat them 114-110 last time they met up.