The Los Angeles Lakers got here out sloppy towards the Houston Rockets as Russell Westbrook harm them for 22 first-half factors, however managed to show issues round within the second half with a stellar defensive effort, profitable 124-115 to start out their annual Grammy street journey off the best manner. Kyle Kuzma was an enormous a part of that.
After a gradual first half, Kuzma bought going over the second two frames. Whereas he needed to go away the sport within the third quarter to get his ankle re-taped, Kuzma gave the impression to be simply wonderful, scoring 23 factors and, extra importantly, displaying as a lot engagement, vitality and effectiveness on protection as he has all season.
“I feel offensively he was excellent, however defensively in that third quarter he took the problem on Russ,” Lakers star LeBron James mentioned on ABC after the sport. “Huge step for the younger fella.”
The Lakers had managed to hold in to solely path by 6 on the break regardless of Westbrook’s efforts within the first half, and outscored the Rockets 32-17 within the third quarter to increase the lead they in the end wouldn’t relinquish.
It wasn’t simply Kuzma, both. The entire Lakers roster actually locked in on protection for a lot of the sport, however particularly whereas extending their lead within the second half. They bought deflections, blocks, steals and lengthy rebounds to ignite their fast-break assault, with LeBron James significantly directing their transition efforts to perfection whereas ending with 31 factors, 12 assists and raucous MVP chants on the street.
JaVale McGee additionally deserves credit score for persevering with to step up in Anthony Davis’ absence. His protection was enormous in fueling the Lakers’ third-quarter run. He blocked three photographs on the night time, however affected numerous others, and two of his blocks — considered one of Clint Capela on the rim, and considered one of a nook three — had been enormous in establishing L.A.’s momentum.
This win stops the Lakers’ dropping skid at one sport, and the crew is now 34-Eight heading into their street matchup with the Boston Celtics on Monday. It’s wanting an increasing number of like there’s a minimum of an opportunity Davis shall be again for that one, making it much more of a must-watch. We’ll see you there.
For extra Lakers discuss, subscribe to the Silver Display screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You’ll be able to comply with Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.