Lakers vs. Wizards: Three Things to Know (7/27/20)
The third and final scrimmage before the NBA seeding games tip off later this week has the Lakers facing off against the shorthanded Washington Wizards, playing without All-Star Bradley Beal, on Monday at 12 p.m. Pacific. Here’s what you need to know ahead of the matchup:
Kuzma Shows His Upside
Throughout the two-week training camp prior to L.A.’s scrimmage against Dallas last week, Frank Vogel repeatedly pointed out how good Kyle Kuzma was looking in practice. After an uneven regular season during which he came off the bench for limited minutes with two of the best players in the world sharing his position, Kuz used the four months since the season went on hiatus to get himself ready for the return. As Vogel and several Lakers told it, Kuz was dominating certain portions of practice.
Looking back to the fall, Kuzma wasn’t able to participate in training camp after hurting his foot with Team USA in August, making it doubly hard for him to find a rhythm especially with fewer minutes and field goal attempts from prior seasons. However, now that he’s fully healthy, Kuz represents an upside for the playoffs that he showed off against Orlando on Saturday when he buried four first quarter threes, and finished with a game-high 25 points on 10 of 13 shooting.
“I think that’s going to a huge piece for us going into the playoffs,” summarized Frank Vogel.
Kuzma will likely be looking forward to facing the Wizards, the NBA’s worst defensive team, with a D rating of 115.0.
Anthony Davis couldn’t have looked any sharper in his 24 minutes of total playing time vs. Dallas and Orlando before he left in the 1st quarter of Saturday’s game after getting poked in the eye. AD was a combined +23, influencing the action on both ends as he typically does, including grabbing 10 boards with his nine points in the 1st against the Magic.
After the game, Vogel said he thought Davis was OK, and would be day-to-day moving forward. Indeed, it was a good sign that Davis watched the second half from the bench with his teammates. We’ll see if he’s able to play against the Wizards.
We learned this info over the weekend:
In nickname news, @JaredDudley619 told me yesterday that Dion Waiters’ nickname of “Philly Cheese” has been updated to “Bubble Cheese” while the squad is in Orlando.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) July 25, 2020
Bubble Cheese was feeling it against the Magic, scoring all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter, including five in the final minute to seal the scrimmage victory. His two-point pull-up J with 54 seconds left put LAL up 114-109, and his triple with 32 seconds left made it 117-111.
After the game, Waiters talked about how thankful he is for the way his teammates and coaches have welcomed him to the squad, made him feel fully comfortable to just be himself. What Vogel and his staff are looking for all came into fruition in the fourth quarter, when LeBron and AD were on the bench, and Waiters was able to create his own shot and convert. He also bullied his way to the rim earlier in the period, showcasing a skillset that the Lakers didn’t have coming off the bench, and one that could be needed as the postseason ramps up.
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