Orlando, Florida, 11 August 2020 (tca/dpa/MIA) – Kyle Kuzma had done this so many times before – enough so that his teammates identified him as their go-to if they needed a game-winner.
They had 4.5 seconds to win this game. LeBron James inbounded the ball and with a play to get him open, Kuzma stepped behind the three-point line to take an open shot. It swished through with 0.4 seconds left and Kuzma bounced back down the court as the Denver Nuggets took a time out.
On the virtual fan board behind the Los Angeles Lakers bench, Kuzma’s mother, Karri, grinned and clapped.
The Lakers (52-18) beat the Nuggets, 124-121, snapping a three-game losing streak in the NBA’s bubble.
LeBron James scored 29 points, Anthony Davis scored 27 and Kuzma had 25.
After a Saturday night outing in which the Lakers lost to the Indiana Pacers, several Lakers went back into the gym for extra work. Among them, were Davis and James.
James was coming off one of his best games in the bubble, in which he scored 31 points with seven assists and eight rebounds, while Davis was coming off his worst.
He made only three of his 14 shots and none of his four three-point attempts. His plus/minus rating was negative-21 against Indiana.
James shot a video of their work and posted it to Instagram, lauding his teammates for their behind-the-scenes efforts to improve. Davis, who rarely uses Instagram for personal reasons, replied on the medium.
“Ima get it back my dawg!” he wrote. “I promise you that!!”
Davis’ effort in Monday’s game against the Nuggets echoed that statement.
The Nuggets got double-digit contributions from eight different players. Denver (46-25) is third in the West, a game and a half behind the Los Angeles Clippers.