The Los Angeles Lakers extended their losing streak as they lost to the Denver Nuggets, 128-104.
Despite the defeat, the Lakers are still in sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference but are starting to regress on both sides of floor, particularly the defensive end. In their three losses, they have failed to defend with the same edge and focus they had earlier in the season, a sign that perhaps they are starting to feel the effects of the long regular season.
While LeBron James missed the game against Denver, Los Angeles saw the return of Kyle Kuzma to the lineup. Kuzma had missed the past five games in order to heal from a sprained ankle and looked good in his 22 minutes off the bench.
When asked after the game how he felt physically, Kuzma admitted he felt more like himself.
“I felt great. This is probably the healthiest I’ve been all season. Feeling it, getting up and down, running. Got to get my legs back a little bit, but from just a health standpoint, probably the best I felt,” Kuzma shared.
Kuzma suffered a foot injury in the 2019 NBA offseason that kept him out of the first few games of the season and then suffered an ankle injury that apparently did not heal as quickly as originally thought. The time off was seemingly just what he needed as he looked mobile and spry against the Nuggets, cutting to the basket with no problem and being able to stay in front of his man defensively.
Kuzma’s health is paramount for Los Angeles as the bench has struggled to score in recent weeks, proving they need his scoring ability when either Davis or James sits. While he has not looked completely comfortable playing next to the All-Star duo at times, he still figures to get crunch time minutes as he is one of the few players on the roster able to hit spot-up threes and credibly move off the ball.
Even with Kuzma back and ready to go, the Lakers will still need to ensure that Davis and James get right as well as they are by far and away the most important players on the team.