Power forward Kyle Kuzma asserted his dominance in the interior game and with 24 points led the Los Angeles Lakers attack that beat the Charlotte Hornets 93-101 at home, in the duel of decimated teams and without any of their stars on the field due to injuries.
Hence, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was satisfied with the victory and having a favorable record of 4-3 in the streak of consecutive games that they have had to play out of their field.
“I think all of our guys are feeling really fatigued right now,” Vogel said. “We are very tired with all the injuries and the tight schedule we have faced. Going 4-3 on this stage makes us feel good about the result.”
Kuzma, who scored four 3-pointers of 12 attempts and 6-6 from the personnel line, in addition to distributing four assists, made it possible for the Lakers to stay in the fight for victory and in the end they achieved it.
No matter how much he did it to a team, he lost five of the top six scorers.
German point guard Dennis Schroder added 19 points as the Lakers’ second-leading scorer, followed by power-up Andre Drummond as the starter and responded with 12 rebounds, one assist, and three ball recoveries.
His presence prevented the Spanish power forward Marc Gasol from playing due to Vogel’s decision.
But it will be the reserve point guard Alex Caruso, who in the end became the sixth player and winning factor of surprise for the Lakers by scoring 13 points, after scoring 4 of 6 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 3-point attempts, and hit 2- 2 from the personnel line. Caruso, who played 25 minutes, also distributed six assists, captured two rebounds, recovered a ball and lost another two.
Now, the Lakers, with a 34-21 record, return to their Staples Center field to face the Boston Celtics on Thursday and with fans allowed in the stands.
“It could be a big shock to have that energy,” said Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who finished with nine points, three rebounds and two assists. “That energy can fill you up.”
Point guard Devonte Graham led the Hornets with 19 points, while forward Caleb Martin finished with a double-double of 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
The Lakers held up the Hornets with 43% shooting overall and 26% from 3s, which cost them losing the second straight game and moving away from first place in the Southeast Division.
The game was largely a substitute battle, with the Hornets losing four starters to injury and the Lakers losing three.
Charlotte missed more than 72% of her scoring to guard Terry Rozier and power forward PJ Washington, joining rookie point guard LaMelo Ball, forward Gordon Hayward and guard-forward Malik Monk on the bench.
The Lakers, who do not yet have All-Stars forward LeBron James and power forward Anthony Davis, also lost power forward Markieff Morris to a sprained left ankle.
The Lakers (34-21) built a 10-point lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter behind a jump shot from Schrder.
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