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Kyle Kuzma explodes as Lakers beat Magic in second scrimmage

Kyle Kuzma went off in his first game after turning 25 in the NBA bubble, helping the Lakers top the Magic for their first victory in Orlando.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Orlando Magic Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers played a mostly normal, regular season rotation in their second scrimmage in the NBA bubble, and as a result, got an outcome that has become fairly standard for them this year: A win, this one coming 119-112 over the Orlando Magic.

The biggest news in this technically meaningless game, though, had nothing to do with how the Lakers played. Anthony Davis left the scrimmage in the first half after being poked in the eye and did not return. He looked effective in the 9 minutes he did play, finishing with a near double-double of 9 points and 10 rebounds in the game, but his status moving forward will be worth monitoring after the game.

LeBron James looked a little rustier in this one — especially after Davis went out — as he and the rest of the Lakers continue to try and get their legs back, making just 6 of his 15 shots and getting visibly frustrated a few times. Luckily for him (and the Lakers), Kyle Kuzma came out absolutely en fuego in this one, hitting his first four threes in the first quarter, smoothly gliding all over the floor offensively and making quick decisions.

In all honesty, this might have been the most comfortable Kuzma has looked all season. He kept right on rolling in the second half, and finished with 25 points on 10-13 shooting in addition to continuing to put in good effort on defense and help the Lakers leave the gym with a win.

A few other notes from this one:

  • J.R. Smith was the first of the two new Lakers guards off the bench in this one, replacing Dion Waiters’ spot in the rotation from last game. This might have been an attempt from Frank Vogel to give the returning Alex Caruso some minutes as the primary backup ballhandler, and see how his pairing with Smith went. The results were mixed. They looked mostly effective as the Lakers continued to build their lead in the first half, but things looked less great in the second half, when Caruso fouled out in a preseason scrimmage (yes, really). Still it was a mostly good debut for the pairing, and they showed enough to be worth looking at again.
  • Speaking of Waiters, he gave the Lakers a spark again in the second half, providing shot creation and energy while scoring 12 points in 20 minutes.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continued to look comfortable and effective in the starting lineup in his second game since replacing Avery Bradley there, finishing with 17 points on efficient 7-8 shooting while making effective and active rotations on defense.
  • The Lakers still look like they’re very much getting their legs back, and struggled defensively and to rebound with Davis out. Davis is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate — so that’s somewhat to be expected — but still something to monitor as the scrimmages and seeding round continues.

The Lakers will play their next and final scrimmage on Monday, July 27 at 12:00 p.m. PT against the Washington Wizards, and Markieff Morris is expected to make his bubble debut in that one. We’ll see you there.

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