There were some wild performances in the NBA last night, starting with Kelly Olynyk returning to Boston and absolutely torching the Celtics for 32 points and 7 rebounds. As Marcus Smart said afterwards, “Kelly kicked our ass.” Of course he did. He’s Kelly Olynyk and that’s what Kelly Olynyk does in revenge games.
But the game of the night took place in Houston where the Lakers took a big step. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the Baby Lakers are growing up.
On Monday, they went to overtime against the Warriors. And last night, they became the first team in more than a month to beat the Rockets. And they did it on a night where James Harden had 51 points and 9 assists.
Normally, if James Harden puts up 51 and 9, the Rockets are going to win. Check that, normally if the Rockets step on the court, the Rockets are going to win. That’s what they’d done the last 14 times they laced ‘em up. And then they ran into Lakers. And their rookie Phenom.
And no, I’m not talking about Lonzo Ball, although he did have a strong night with 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. I’m talking about the rookie who has been huge for them all season – Kyle Kuzma. He absolutely went off against the Rockets.
38 points, 7 threes, and an emoji retweet from Kobe Bryant. That is a monster night for the rookie, but he’s not surprised. Check out this response to a question from Lakers reporter Mike Trudell.
I love that answer. And the way he answers it when he’s asked again. You sure that you expected games like this? Yes.
And later, he explained why: “Why not? I scored 30s in summer league, so…”
Respectfully, dropping 38 on the team with the best record in the NBA is a lot different than going for 30 against the Blazers rookies and backups in Las Vegas.
To start with, 38 points is the second-most by a Lakers rookie since the franchise moved to Los Angeles. And in case you forgot, there have been some pretty good rookies to throw on a Lakers jersey.
Kuzma came out on fire, hitting all 9 of his shots in the first, including 6 threes.
Now, Kuzma is human and he did admit that the last time he was that hot on the court was “probably like fifth or sixth grade, maybe. For real, no joke.”
That makes sense. But that was real all right. And it was kind of a joke. Because NBA players don’t do that. They don’t absolutely torch down buildings like that and they certainly don’t do it as rookies against the team with the best record in the NBA.
And yes, I know that Chris Paul left the game in the fourth with an injury. And that Clint Capela didn’t play at all, but if you think that takes away from what Kuzma and the Lakers did, you’re wrong. They managed to do to the Rockets what they couldn’t do to the Warriors, Cavs, and Knicks before them – play an exciting game and then finished it off at the end. LA had a huge lead, they let it slip away, and then looked like they were letting the game slip away, but they scored 10 straight in the fourth to pull away.
They did what they haven’t always done before – they found a way to win. Don’t get it twisted; they’re still 11-18. They still have a ton of work to do, but the work that they are doing is finally showing. And you know Laker fans are feeling it. You know they are starting to eye those car flags and they’re itching to throw them on again. Not yet, Laker fan. Not yet, but it’s getting closer.