Last night, the Lakers were without Anthony Davis in what seemed to be like rest, although they called it a calf contusion before the game. The Timberwolves were also without their star big man in Karl Anthony Towns. From the start, this was a game the Lakers could and should have easily won, and that is exactly what they did.
Many people, including myself, expected LeBron to at least drop 30+ points in a game where he would clearly be the #1 scoring option, but for most of the night, he seemed to be in cruise control, which is still understandable. He’s entering his 18th year and the shortest offseason in league history. The story of the night, however, was Kyle Kuzma without a doubt.
He started with 14 points in the first quarter, including four for four from three. He was put right into the starting lineup the minute AD was ruled out, and coach Vogel stated that he would be in the lineup whenever LeBron or AD is unavailable to play. He was extended right before the season, so he certainly wants to prove to them that he was worth the money.
He already impressed us in the pre-season, but in the past two games, he has really shown the Lakers what he could and what he should be on the court every night. Against the Clippers and the Mavericks, he had 15 and 13 points. Last night, he had 20 points and probably could have had more if the game wasn’t so out of reach for the T-Wolves from the moment the first quarter ended. The Lakers are going to be a tough side to beat down the stretch if Kuzma puts up these types of numbers on a game to game basis. The one thing he still needs to figure out is how to produce at this rate when both LeBron and AD are playing. It may be a confidence thing for him, but what he did last night was a great start.
As mentioned earlier, LeBron seemed to be in cruise control, but still had a pretty good and efficient game overall. He finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. He really didn’t need to do much because of the other players contributing, especially with another night of Schroder and Harrell putting up double-digit points.
Another bright spot is from last Marc Gasol, who struggled the first two games to get going offensively. Last night, he had 12 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists and got the three-ball going a little bit too. Going into this game, the Timberwolves were 2-0, but they are obviously still very young. Anthony Edwards is a bright spot for them and seems to continue to get better every game. They are still a very young, hungry team that will have good and terrible moments.
The Lakers will play the second part of a back to back tonight at home against Portland. It’s still unclear whether AD will be playing, and one may assume that this is the game LeBron takes some rest. They play tonight at 10 PM EST.