The Inevitable Duo of LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma
LeBron James. Just the name takes you to a high expectation but, there is another Laker that has been able to synchronize with James. That player is Kyle Kuzma. When Brandon Ingram was sidelined with an injury, someone needed to step up and assist James. In the past few games, Kuzma has become that guy, who plays strong and consistently to aid James in the moments that matter most.
The Lakers are currently the 4th seed in the Western Conference, only a game and a half behind the number one seed. Their standing is most likely due to James, but Kuzma deserves some of the credit as he has stepped up in the past couple of weeks.
How LeBron James is Meeting Expectations
LeBron James isn’t called the King for anything. James has been outstanding for the Los Angeles Lakers. At the beginning of the season, he donned a more laidback attitude, allowing his new and younger teammates figure out the floor. Now it seems like James is comfortable enough to take over the game when needed. Since playing against the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center, James has been more than willing to push the pace and be the guy to finish games.
In the Lakers’ recent 4-game home stretch, LeBron James averaged 32.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. It isn’t really about how much he scored, but when he scored. James was explosive in vital moments. The first game of the home stretch was on November 29th against the Pacers. Thanks to James, the Lakers were off to a hot start, leading by as much as 24 in the first half. When things got sloppy in the second half, King James was again the spark that got the Lakers up and running. He led the Lakers in a 9-0 run in the last 4 minutes allowing them to pull away for the win, 104-96.
That story continued when they played the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, and Miami Heat at home. LeBron James is great and truly in a league of his own, but there has been someone helping facilitate and that is Kuzma.
Kuzmania Has Begun
Kuzma’s consistency has been on full display in the last few games for the Lakers, becoming a force alongside James. James and Kuzma combined for 61 points on Monday night against the Miami Heat. When they played against the Spurs on December 7th, they combined for 62 points. As a unit, they have been able to feed off of each other and keep the ball moving. Kuzma was key to the Lakers’ win against Miami. He shot 14-of-22 from the field and contributed 3 3-pointers of the Lakers 14.
It was a close game but James was able to find Kuzma all night long and when most importantly when the game was on the line. In the last 3 minutes of the game, James passes the ball to Kuzma for a lay-up and assists Kuzma’s 33 points. With the made shot, Kuzma gave James his 12th and final assist of the night. That lay-up gave the Lakers the lead and sealed the 108-105 win.
Kuz’s 33 points and 7 rebounds against the Heat adds to his four-game streak of 20 plus points per game. Kuzma has become the secondary playmaker for the Lakers, creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. As someone who had a rocky start to the season, Kuzma has been able to show that he can rise to the occasion and perform. LeBron James is clearly also noticing and said, “He’s just playing all-around solid basketball,’ after the Lakers win against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. And of course, we’ve all noticed the amazing chemistry that is unveiling itself right before our eyes.
There’s Still 55 Games To Go
This thrilling two-some will be put to the test as the Lakers head into a 4-game road trip starting with the Houston Rockets on Thursday night. From what we’ve seen so far, this road trip will be a great way to test their chemistry and set higher expectations for the rest of the season.