The Los Angeles Lakers looked out of sorts in their Western Conference semifinals opener against the Houston Rockets on Friday, and Kyle Kuzma was no exception. In just over 28 minutes of playing time, Kuzma scored 8 points on 3-9 shooting from the field, including 1-4 shooting from behind the arc, and posted a game-worst plus-minus of -21.
In Game 2, Kuzma looked more like the player we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, scoring 16 points on an efficient 6-7 shooting from the field, which helped him end the night with the third-best offensive rating on the team (134.1).
Kuzma has tried make a bigger impact on defense than offense since the season restarted, but after Sunday’s game, he acknowledged that he needs to be more aggressive as a scorer.
“For me, just trying to get out of that corner,” Kuzma told reporters on Zoom. “When I’m in the corner, it’s kind of tough for me to do certain things, so I’m just trying to move around more and punish them.”
Most of Kuzma’s shots are going to come from him playing off of the ball now that Rajon Rondo is back with the second unit. Since Rondo made his return, he’s played 32 minutes with Kuzma. Only LeBron James and Anthony Davis have played more minutes with Rondo.
Without the ball in his hands, Kuzma has been forced to take with the defensive gives him, and apparently the defense gave him and his teammates a lot to work with on Sunday.
“We just hit shots last night,” Kuzma said. “Just flow of the game, sometimes you get more threes, sometimes you get less shots. It’s all about the flow.”
The Lakers can live with Kuzma having bad shooting nights, but they can’t afford for him to go missing on offense. Whether or not he’s hitting shots at an efficient clip, it’s important that he stays involved. Hopefully he can build on what he showed in Game 2 in Game 3 on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. PT.