The Los Angeles Lakers went into Portland with the goal of snapping their four-game losing streak and while it wasn’t pretty, they got the job done, beating the Trail Blazers 127-118 behind a 24-point outing from Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma built on his bounce-back performance against the LA Clippers on Christmas Day, scoring 20 of his 24 points in the first half of Saturday’s game. Head coach Frank Vogel got visibly frustrated with the points Kuzma was giving up on the defensive end, but when he’s putting up big numbers at an efficient clip, it’s hard to keep him off of the floor.
The bench as a whole was pretty impressive against the Trail Blazers, contributing a season-high 72 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn’t pour in as many points as Kuzma did, but he hit the shots he was supposed to, particularly from behind the 3-point line where was 3-4. Rajon Rondo also contributed 15 points.
Having too many bodies at the guard positions has hurt the Lakers on most nights, especially with politics in the locker room, but tonight it worked in their favor as Rondo and Caldwell-Pope were able to step up when Avery Bradley and Danny Green were struggling from the field. Ideally, though, the Lakers won’t have to rely on Bradley and Caldwell-Pope to bail them out on a regular basis.
Of course, the Lakers also got solid production from their star forwards, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who combined for 41 points. In addition to his scoring, James dished out 16 assists. 21 points, 16 assists, 7 rebounds and two steals isn’t bad for someone that was questionable to even play.
The Lakers will need to get a good night’s rest before getting back to work tomorrow, when they’ll host the Dallas Mavericks for their third matchup of the season.