Here is what you need to know before the Lakers hit the floor against the Utah Jazz.
1) Kuzmania took over STAPLES on Wednesday
Kyle Kuzma is coming off the hottest night of his career, having exploded for a career-high 41 points against Detroit — in only 29 minutes.
The sophomore was lethal across the floor, shooting 11-of-14 inside the arc and 5-of-10 on 3-pointers. He attacked in transition, fired off screens and broke out his trusty floater.
Kuzma dropped 22 points in the third quarter alone, as the Lakers’ second-leading scorer stepped up in a big way with LeBron James missing his eighth straight game due to a groin strain.
The 23-year-old shot just 4-of-20 from the field in L.A.’s previous game, but he put up 500 shots on his own during the team’s off day, and the results were thunderous.
Plus, his performance was extra sweet for the Flint native, considering it came against his hometown team.
“Oooh, that boy was hot!”
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 10, 2019
2) Beas Mode is also in effect
Nobody on this team has been through as much this year as Michael Beasley, who missed nearly a month due to the passing of his mother.
So Beasley’s recent success has been exceptionally rewarding for those around him. He has scored double figures in three straight games, averaging 14.3 points on a towering 70.4 percent clip (19-of-27).
The 11-year veteran scored a season-high 19 points against the Pistons, shooting 9-of-13 on his 30th birthday. In his small sample size this year, Beasley has thrived as a scorer, especially in isolations, drives and pick-and-rolls.
“We call Michael Beasley a walking bucket,” JaVale McGee said. “All he needs is some dishwater and a mop. The way he went out there on his birthday and did his thing was amazing.”
3) Lonzo’s hitting his stride
After dropping 21 points in Dallas, Lonzo Ball stepped his game up even further against Detroit, dishing out 11 assists, including five to Kuzma.
Ball was in full Showtime mode versus the Pistons, launching full-court assists, breaking out vicious handles and creating all kinds of havoc on defense.
The Lakers will look to Lonzo for continued leadership in the absences of LeBron and Rajon Rondo, while Utah is battling its own injuries.
The Jazz have six players out, including four guards, meaning this could be an important positional matchup between Ball and Utah’s sophomore stud Donovan Mitchell (20.7 ppg).
Aggressive stuff from Lonzo Ball last night.
Full-court outlets, tight interior passes, shifty handles, defensive chaos. pic.twitter.com/YDPAlYN9Ux
— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 10, 2019
Lakers: LeBron James (strained left groin) and Rajon Rondo (right ring finger surgery) are out. Isaac Bonga, Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams are on G League assignment.
Jazz: Ricky Rubio (right groin strain), Dante Exum (left ankle sprain), Thabo Sefolosha (right groin sprain), Raul Neto (left groin strain), Grayson Allen (right ankle sprain) and Tony Bradley (right ankle surgery) are out.
Tip-Off: 7 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet in L.A. ESPN nationally.
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Purple City
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena — Salt Lake City, Utah
Source: Los Angeles Lakers