Lakers Forward Kyle Kuzma Delivers Strong Statement on Role

Getty Images Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kyle Kuzma drew his fifth start of the season in a 114-113 overtime win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, playing an increased role with Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis out of the lineup.

Kuzma notched a season-high 39 minutes in the victory — the third straight in overtime for the Lakers — putting up 15 points and 9 rebounds. He also came up with big plays down the stretch on the defensive end and was a team-high plus-8.

“It’s big for this team. I’m trying to be a star in my role,” Kuzma told Spectrum SportsNet in his postgame interview. “Just trying to help this team win. Coming off the bench or starting, I’m just out there playing basketball — playing free with a sense of joy, trying to get wins.”


Markieff Morris Says Lack of Minutes ‘Tough’

With Kuzma moving back into the starting lineup, Markieff Morris went to the bench after registering his second start on Monday. However, with Davis still out, Morris still saw the court quite a bit and has played 51 minutes the last two games. It comes after both he and Wes Matthews fell out of the rotation for four consecutive games.

“It’s tough. It’s not an easy thing to not be in the lineup and [being told] that they have to find minutes for other guys to keep them in rhythm,” Morris told reporters. “This is a tough season for everybody. But the thing that makes us great is that we’re a deep team. For me and Wes [Matthews], we just have to stay ready for when our numbers are called.”

Morris joined the Lakers last season after agreeing to a buyout with the Pistons. He played a significant role during the championship run, averaging 18.3 minutes, 5.9 points and 3 rebounds. He shot an outstanding 42% from beyond the arc in the postseason, but that has dropped to 30.9% this year.

Kyle Kuzma on LeBron James: Dude’s a Beast

lebron james

GettyLos Angeles star LeBron James.

The Lakers have won six games in a row, but being pushed to overtime three consecutive times by the Thunder (twice) and Pistons — two sub-.500 teams missing some key players — has been less than ideal for the defending champs.

“We’re not making things easier on ourselves,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters after the game. “But, you know, at the end of the day, we’re doing enough to grind things out in the second half and do what we need to do to get that W.”

Kuzma said the team has had to dig deep down to find that energy, especially in an empty Staples Center.

“It’s unacceptable by our standards,” Kuzma said. “I think we did a good job of getting timely stops and hitting a few baskets. … We just have to find the energy. It’s up to us on a daily basis to be committed to one another and excellence. We have to pull out any kind of energy without fans.”

What helps is having LeBron James on your side. James has set the tone for the Lakers and is relentless in his pursuit of greatness.

“Being tired is just in your head. And that’s always been his mindset through his unbelievable career. That dude’s a beast,” Kuzma said. “So if he says he’s not tired, he doesn’t get tired, it doesn’t matter.”

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