(Anna Lupean/Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers at Cavaliers: 3 Things to Know (1/13/20)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
1) Kuz Control is activated
Missing three of their starters — LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Danny Green — the Lakers' odds weren't looking so great against an Oklahoma City team that had won 11 of their previous 13 games.
Enter Kyle Kuzma. In one of the best games of his career, Kuz lifted the Lakers' offense with 36 points on 15-of-24 shooting. Not only did he make up for a trio that averages a combined 61 points, he did so in true first-option fashion.
Kuzma had the ball in his hands for more time than he has at any other point this season. And the 24-year-old was doing work off the dribble, both burrowing his way to the bucket and pulling up for some jumpers.
2) King back for a reunion?
LeBron is considered probable to return to action tonight for a battle with his former club.
The most iconic player in Cavaliers history, James' laundry list of accomplishments in Ohio include the 2016 NBA title, two MVP trophies and the Cavs' all-time record for points, rebounds, assists and steals.
James' potential return also bodes well considering his personal record against his old team, as he has lost just once in 13 games against Cleveland. It's exactly what the Lakers need with Davis and Rajon Rondo (coming off 21 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists last game) potentially out.
3) Don't sleep on Cleveland
The Lakers may have won eight straight and the Cavs may have the NBA's fourth-worst record, but it would be folly to expect the Lakers to be able to sleepwalk into a victory.
Cleveland's biggest strengths lie in their big men — two vets from LeBron's title team. Both Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson are averaging a double-double this season, with the latter establishing himself as one of the league's premier offensive rebounders.
The Cavs also have some young talent to watch. Sophomore Collin Sexton has taken a step forward to lead the team in scoring, while fifth-overall pick Darius Garland has seen his production tick up in recent weeks.
Lakers: LeBron James (flu-like symptoms) and Avery Bradley (flu-like symptoms) are probable. Anthony Davis (gluteus maximus contusion) and Rajon Rondo (right ring finger sprain) are questionable. DeMarcus Cousins (right knee rehabilitation) is out.
Cavaliers: Dante Exum (illness) is questionable. Larry Nance Jr. (left knee soreness), Kevin Porter Jr. (left knee sprain) and Dylan Windler (left lower leg stress reaction) are out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 Tu Liga
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
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