A rejuvenated Kyle Kuzma helped the Lakers defeat the Blazers 128-120 on Saturday, with the 24-year-old finally healthy and back to leading the team’s bench unit, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com writes.
Kuzma missed five straight games this month due to a lingering left ankle injury, officially returning to the lineup one week ago in Denver.
“I’m just healthy now,” Kuzma said, as relayed by McMenamin. “I’m confident in my body. I took a little bit of time off, sitting out for five games and really just self-collected what I needed to do and got it done.”
Kuzma scored 20 first-half points against Portland and finished with 24 on the night, proving his worth on 9-for-17 shooting off the bench. He’ll likely be viewed as Los Angeles’ third-leading scorer going forward, naturally behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“I’m just being in attack mode at all times,” Kuzma said. “Being the third option, you don’t have the luxury of taking it easy sometimes, so just being in attack mode.”
The Lakers broke a four-game losing streak by beating Portland, bringing their record to 25-7 on the season. They’ll begin a five-game homestand by hosting Dallas on Sunday, followed by Phoenix, New Orleans, Detroit and New York.
Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:
- Lakers star LeBron James has received the honor of being named The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Decade, joining a list that already includes Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky and Arnold Palmer, as relayed by ESPN.com. “You add another 10 years of learning and adversity, pitfalls, good, great, bad, and any smart person who wants to grow will learn from all those experiences,” James told the AP. “A decade ago, I just turned 25. I’m about to be 35 [on Monday], and I’m just in a better [place] in my life and have a better understanding of what I want to get out of life.”
- Spurs forward Rudy Gay plans to continue firing away from three-point territory, doing whatever it takes to help the team win this season, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “We are just trying to figure out how we can help the team and right now it is with three-point shooting,” Gay said of himself and teammate LaMarcus Aldridge. Gay tallied 16 points in 20 minutes against Detroit on Saturday, connecting on 4-of-7 attempts from deep.
- The Spurs are ready for a “new season” in 2020, wiping the slate clean and shifting their focus to obtaining a playoff seed this spring, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. San Antonio has the ninth-best record in the Western Conference at 13-18, winning six of its last 10 games.