As Kyle Kuzma has worked to improve defensively and in his playmaking ability, he’s been lauded for having a polished game as a scorer since his rookie season. That’s led to him emerging as the second option for the Los Angeles Lakers behind LeBron James.
With James still recovering from a strained groin and his return date unclear, Kuzma has been afforded more opportunities on offense. He’s shared some of that responsibility with Brandon Ingram, though the third-year forward has more often been used in the role of point guard, benefitting Kuzma.
Coming off a career-high 41 points against the Detroit Pistons, Kuzma was among the Lakers who went cold in a loss to the Utah Jazz. He missed all eight field goal attempts in the first half, with his only point coming at the free throw line.
Despite a second rough shooting night in the past three games, Kuzma downplayed having any concern, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I think I just missed a couple bunnies I usually make around the rim. Got a few shots blocked, but like you say, I’m never really worried. Nine times out of 10 I’m going to make shots around the rim that I missed tonight.”
A 4-for-20 effort earlier in the week was chalked up in some part to rust as it was Kuzma’s first game after missing the previous two because of a lower back contusion. He later explained the back tightened up on him during the win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Frustrated by his performance, the 23-year-old used an off day to refine his shooting form. Lakers head coach Luke Walton revealed the shooting session and explained it was a factor in Kuzma exploding for a career high.
In addition to missing shots near the rim, Kuzma again struggled behind the arc — failing to connect on all five attempts. His next opportunity at redemption comes Sunday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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