The Los Angeles Lakers opened up the second half of the NBA season with a 105-100 win over the Indiana Pacers. Kyle Kuzma deserves a lot of credit for the win as he had an excellent game. He scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds coming off the bench. It was certainly one of his best games of the year.
“I’m just playing my game, really,” Kuzma said after the game, via the Los Angeles Times. “Just taking what’s given to me. Not trying to force anything. Not trying to just be a bench scorer or trying to put the ball in the hole every possession. But when I’m open, I’m shooting it. I’m trying to make a play and just playing off of my teammates the best way I can. So, that’s just where I’m at.”
While those comments are well and good, Kuzma surprised fans with the way he described a play he made with LeBron James late in the game. Warning, the language the forward uses is NSFW.
“Yeah, we were looking at each other the entire possession,” Kuzma said. “I was pretty much eye f***ing him to pass me the ball. He found me and I made the shot.”
That was certainly a unique way for Kuzma to describe the play. It’s clear that LeBron and the forward have a very good relationship if he feels comfortable making comments like the ones above.
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LeBron Has High Praise for Kuzma
In Kuzma’s first couple of years with the Lakers, he looked like he was going to be a star. Through the last couple of seasons, he’s cooled down. He’s currently averaging a career-low 11.8 points a game. However, his numbers may be down, but he’s growing as a player. LeBron has always been high on Kuzma and had very high praise for him after his big game versus the Pacers.
“Well, I mean tonight, he had it going,” LeBron said after the game. “And we continued to find the hot hand. I wanted to continue to give him the ball and he continued to make plays. And that’s the growth.
“The growth of him is knowing that some games it’s going to be different. It’s not always going to be high-scoring nights. But he’s still going to be able to make an impact, especially on the glass and his energy and his effort. But we need him to make shots. We need him to make shots, especially in the absence of AD and tonight was an example of that.”
Kuzma has made big strides on defense and is an important player for the Lakers. He may not be scoring a bunch of points at a consistent rate but he’s showing his value in other ways.
Kuzma Talks LeBron’s Workload
With Anthony Davis missing a lot of time with an injury, LeBron has had to carry a heavy workload. Normally, that’d be fine but he’s 36-years-old and playoff time is still far off. The Lakers rely heavily on the superstar and Kuzma even admitted that it’s hard to play when he’s not on the court.
“Our team is predicated on LeBron and then AD and then everybody else kind of fit in where they get in,” Kuzma said. “When you take a massive usage player like that, somebody that the offense is tailor-made to be around, we’ve been playing that way for a year and a half.
“So, for us to kind of think of another way to play offensively on the fly, it’s a little challenging. But I think having Dennis [Schroder] back, obviously another ballhandler, another scorer, and everybody just playing really, really hard and playing within themselves has really helped us out.”