(Photo By: Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images)
Lakers at Warriors: 3 Things to Know (12/22/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers visit the champion Golden State Warriors.
1) Kuz is a man on fire
It’s not often a player — much less a rookie — gets as hot as Kyle Kuzma did in Wednesday’s victory over Houston.
The 22-year-old hit each of his first nine shots en route to a career-high 38-point night against the team with the best record in the NBA. Kuzma was particularly hot from deep, splashing 7-of-10 from 3-point range.
The Lakers got him into a rhythm early with a few easy looks from downtown, but Kuzma himself absolutely caught fire, making some tough shots throughout the rest of the night.
This included a baseline fadeaway over two defenders that was downright Mamba-esque. Even Kobe Bryant himself had to show his approval for Kuz.
On a night when he hit seven 3-pointers, Kyle Kuzma's most impressive shot may have been this baseline fadeaway against the double-team.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) December 21, 2017
28 games into his career, Kuz goes off for 38 points. https://t.co/ig4vahTP1Z pic.twitter.com/KP7hVIDmJj
2) Lakers are getting an immediate rematch with the Dubs
Just four days ago, the Lakers locked into another back-and-forth battle with the Warriors, taking the defending champs into overtime for the second game this season.
Kuzma — who has three straight 20-point games — was again at the forefront for the purple and gold, leading the offense with 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting.
But the Lakers couldn’t contain Kevin Durant, who shot just 6-of-25 in regulation but 4-of-4 in overtime.
Durant has been an absolute monster in Stephen Curry’s six-game injury absence, leading the NBA with 33.2 points per game, while also averaging 10.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.8 blocks.
Durant is just about impossible to shut down, but the Lakers will hope to keep him (relatively) in check and provide their own highlights on the other end.
3) All eyes are on the center rotation
With Brook Lopez out due to a sprained ankle, the Lakers are staying flexible with their centers’ playing time.
Andrew Bogut got the starting nod in Houston, as coach Luke Walton sought to counter James Harden’s slashing by playing the Lakers’ 7-foot rim protector. Meanwhile, Larry Nance Jr. played 22 minutes as a small-ball center, grabbing six offensive rebounds along the way.
That left Julius Randle as the odd man, playing only eight minutes.
But Walton tends to ride with his hottest players, meaning that Randle very well could get the most playing time of any of them against the Warriors.
He has been the NBA’s most efficient pick-and-roll big man this season and excellent at switching onto guards and wings defensively. If Randle has both of those skills on display in Oakland, he should see his playing time swell back up.
Lakers: Brook Lopez (right ankle sprain) is out.
Warriors: Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) is out. Shaun Livingston (sore right knee) is doubtful. Draymond Green (right shoulder soreness), Andre Iguodala (flu-like symptoms) and Zaza Pachulia (left shoulder soreness) are questionable.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, California