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Lakers Top Blazers Behind LeBron's Dimes, Bench's Big Night
It took a week, but the top team in the West is back on track. It just took a little bit of Kuz Control.
Kyle Kuzma continued his hot streak, leading the Lakers with 24 points as they snapped their four-game losing streak with a 128-120 win in Portland.
“Kuz has been playing out of his mind since he came back,” Anthony Davis said.
Kuzma recently missed five games due to an ankle injury, and hadn’t been performing to his usual standards prior to taking that time to let it heal. But since coming back, he has now averaged 21.7 points in his three contests.
The 24-year-old was especially crucial for the Lakers in this matchup, as he provided a smorgasbord of scoring, with a few 3-pointers, some crafty iso game and even a transition Eurostep.
“We want him to be that third scorer for us,” LeBron James said. “Someone who can consistently get to 18 or 20 points a night. More importantly it’s the efficiency right now that I love.”
James — who was a game-time decision due to a groin injury — once again showed why he is the league’s premier playmaker. In addition to his 21 points, LeBron passed at maestro levels, with 16 assists and only one turnover.
Davis (20 points, nine rebounds) was one of James’ primary targets, but so were the Lakers’ bench players — who combined for a season-high 72 points off the pine.
Kuzma — with a 20-point first half — was chief among this group, but several players had their say in the second unit.
Rajon Rondo slashed through Portland’s defense toward 15 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13 points) hit a pair of clutch 3-pointers. Dwight Howard (11 points, eight rebounds, four blocks) provided multiple key stops in the fourth quarter.
It added up to a slump-ending recipe that answered coach Frank Vogel’s call for the team to play “angry and edgy.”
“We didn’t hold our heads down,” Howard said. “We didn’t point the finger at each other. We stayed together, we got a good win.”
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