Los Angeles Lakers: Kyle Kuzma stays hot in place of Anthony Davis vs. Houston Rockets

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma had another strong game in place of Anthony Davis, helping the purple and gold to a victory over the Houston Rockets.

The Los Angeles Lakers were without Anthony Davis for the fifth consecutive game on Friday night. It was arguably their biggest test since Davis was injured against the New York Knicks, as they were facing off with the Houston Rockets on the road.

To defeat teams of this caliber, Los Angeles needs other players to step up. The player with the spotlight on them the most since Davis went down is Kyle Kuzma.

Kuzma has been replacing Davis in the starting lineup since he was sidelined. He played well in the first two games without Davis, scoring 26 and 36 points, respectively. However, in the next two games, he combined for only 15.

Between all of this, Kuzma has been a part of multiple trade rumors. Everyone has included him in packages to upgrade the team’s roster, whether it be for another point guard or wing defender.

We have seen in the past what this does to young players. Last year, leading up to the NBA Trade Deadline, the young Lakers were negatively impacted by the constant rumors. The same looked to be happening again to Kuzma, but he was able to put it all behind him against the Rockets on Saturday night.

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Kuzma played an excellent game against Houston. He was second on the team in scoring with 23 points, behind only the 31 scored by LeBron James. Kuzma was efficient, making 8-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-8 from the 3-point line. He also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out once assist.

While the offensive output was much needed, it was his defensive effort that James lauded during his post-game interview. James credited Kuzma’s defense on Russell Westbrook, whom he matched up with during the second half, as a big reason for the Lakers leaving Houston with a victory.

In three games with Davis sidelined, Kuzma has now scored at least 23 points three times. While the 15 combined points in the other two games show he still needs to work on his consistency, the Lakers will be happy that he has stepped up more often than not with Davis sidelined.

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Kuzma will look to keep the good performances coming when the Lakers continue their road trip with a visit to the Boston Celtics on Monday night.