In 28 minutes against Minnesota, Kuzma put up just 10 points on a woeful 4-12 shooting from the field. However, it wasn’t just that he was missing shots, it was the fact that most of his shots — even when he was open — were short.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton mentioned that Kuzma received treatment on his hip at practice on Wednesday, and after the Lakers’ 120-105 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night, Walton told reporters that it looked like Kuzma wasn’t 100 percent yet.
“He didn’t look like he was moving right. He truly loves to compete,” Walton said. “My gut was he wasn’t able to do what he wanted to. He said he felt fine and that he wanted to play, but he didn’t look like his normal self tonight.”
Kuzma confirmed that he has been dealing with hip soreness since the Lakers played in Houston on Saturday. However, after describing himself as “hard-headed,” he said he’s insisted on playing through the injury.
“I’m just trying to get a lot of treatment on it nonstop, but it’s getting a little bit worse,” Kuzma said.
His resilience earned him props from Brandon Ingram, who said that the sacrifice of players like Kuzma and Rajon Rondo, who made his return for the Lakers on Thursday, are essential to the team right now while they deal with so many other injuries.
“I think it just shows how much they care about the game of basketball, how much they care about this team to continue to keep pushing through whatever they have going on,” Ingram said.
Kuzma will have the next two days to receive treatment before the Lakers’ next game against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. If Kuzma is ruled unfit to play, he will join Lonzo Ball and LeBron James on the injury report.
It’s been difficult enough for the Lakers to get their offense going in James’ absence, so losing Kuzma, the team’s second-leading scorer, would be a huge blow to a team that is already struggling to find their rhythm. Here’s hoping he’s ready to go next game, but if he’s not, the Lakers should exercise caution and not make things worse than they already are.