The Los Angeles Lakers’ crash-and-burn return to reality has not been pretty over the last few weeks. Blame can be placed on injuries, an incredibly unforgiving schedule and playing above their ceiling a bit before everything went downhill, but Kyle Kuzma isn’t accepting any of those excuses.
The Lakers’ dynamic rookie has been in a bit of his own funk, hitting what appears to be the infamous rookie wall. He’s also been dealing with a quadriceps contusion, and averaging 35.9 minutes per outing over the last 10 games.
“We had no effort, we didn’t give no effort on the floor, and the outcome is the outcome,” Kuzma said, succinctly summarizing the nightmare game.
The bottom-of-the-conference blues have taken full hold of the Lakers’ season, an eight game losing streak anchoring them to the bottom of the Pacific ocean once again. Lakers head coach Luke Walton called it like it is after the game, citing disappointment in both the players and coaching staff as they’ve let down the franchise.
Kuzma, clearly frustrated by the biggest loss of the season, had a positive message for fans after the game despite the group hitting what one woule hope is rock bottom:
Were gonna figure this out promise that— kuz (@kylekuzma) January 4, 2018
Kuzma, visibly exasperated by the loss as he fielded questions from reports following the game, didn’t hold back on the poor performance. Kyle was critical of the entire team’s effort, feeling like everyone “gave up” after the Oklahoma City Thunder struck.
“We just flat out kind of just really gave up as a team. They took a little lead and we just went to being selfish on the floor. We didn’t compete on defense, and they killed us, flat out. Losing by 40, there’s no in-between.
“We just flat out gave up. You can see they got basket after basket, we had no resistance on them on the defensive end, and on the offensive end when things got tough we tried to do it individually, and you can’t do in this league,” Kuzma said.
The Lakers gave up 107 points through the final three quarters of the game, meaning you could take away all 26 of the Thunder’s first quarter points and LA would still be down by 11 points once the final buzzer sounded.
“Not really sure, it’s just all about effort. It’s really about having effort and wanting to be on the floor and give your all. Losing by 40, that’s straight tough, that’s pretty embarrassing to be out there and what not,” Kuzma said.
Walton, like Kuzma, believes this is something the Lakers can and will fix.
“This is something that we’ll fix. We’re not going to start getting blown out now, we’re not going to start feeling sorry for ourselves, we’re gonna get back in the gym tomorrow, we’re going to work, we’re going to show film, and I believe in the character of our team, and we’ll fix it,” Walton said.
Getting to their destination of being a desirable basketball team a superstar player or two might be interested in playing for has taken a hit, though, and Kuzma put it bluntly.
“Today was five steps back, in my opinion. It’s something that we need to, I don’t know, address, whatever, correct, something. Something has to change for sure.”
- Quotes transcribed via Lakers.com, stats via NBA.com