Kyle Kuzma posts up at practice at the UCLA Health Training Center.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Lakers Prep for Game Following Four-Day Break

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

A month into the season, head coach Luke Walton wanted his team to embrace a rare stretch of four days without a game.

Walton gave his players two days off to mentally recover before organizing two especially challenging practices in the lead-up to Monday’s game against the LA Clippers.

Walton’s biggest decision on Monday will be his choice at starting power forward.

Larry Nance Jr. is expected to return from a hand fracture that kept him out the last three weeks. Rookie Kyle Kuzma started in his absence, averaging 18.1 points and establishing himself as the Lakers’ leading scorer.

Walton seemed to lean toward starting Nance on Saturday, but played it more coy on Sunday.

“(Nance) and Kuz are both so versatile,” Walton said. “It really allows us to have more options and play with different lineups depending on the way the game’s going and who we’re matched up against.”

Nance is the more polished defender of the two, while Kuzma is a more threatening scorer and shooter.

While both have succeeded in the starting five this year, Walton will have to choose which skill set best serves the opening lineup.

“Larry does all the intangible things, Kuz spaces the floor,” Julius Randle said. “Whatever happens, we’ll make it work.”

Randle — the second-unit center — called it “a plus either way” to add Nance or Kuzma to the bench.

Walton acknowledged the difficulties of balancing a loaded frontcourt — with Nance, Kuzma, Randle, Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut all receiving minutes.

“Everyone always wants to play more, and they should want to play more,” Walton said. “It’ll be a challenge as far as guys being unhappy about their minutes. But it shouldn’t be a challenge as far as what we’re trying to do.”

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