Kyle Kuzma didn’t care about being snubbed from the All-Summer League First Team. He wasn’t fuming over not being drafted in the lottery. He just wanted to win.
He personally made sure that happened, earning championship game MVP honors in the Lakers’ 110-98 victory over Portland in the Summer League title game.
“You’re going to have people that are high on you one day and low on you the next,” Kuzma said. “For me, it’s just to stay levelheaded and stay working.”
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Kuzma was red-hot all night long, scoring 30 points — just three shy of the championship record — while shooting 11-of-16 from the field and 6-of-10 on 3-pointers.
He also found time to make it a double-double with 10 rebounds, all while battling on both ends of the floor with the Trail Blazers’ 250-pound behemoth, Caleb Swanigan.
Kuzma’s biggest moment came at the end of the third quarter, when he received an inbounds pass with two seconds left.
He rose up from three feet beyond the 3-point line and cashed a buzzer-beating triple that sparked a 13-0 run to bury the Blazers.
Kuzma’s boiling 3-point shooting set himself up for effective drives to the hoop. His 30-point night was far from surprising to teammate Lonzo Ball, who sat out due to a mild calf strain.
“Nothing new for him,” Ball said. “He already had one (30-point game), got another one. He just did what Kyle does out there.”
With Ball sidelined, Kuzma had to step up for a Lakers squad that had already lost Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart to injuries.
But Kuzma had spent the entire Summer League proving that he could carry the offense, as he went from having nine points in the opener to finishing as the event’s fourth-leading scorer with 21.9 points per night.
He shot 51.4 percent from the field and a flaming 24-of-50 on 3-pointers, while also averaging 6.4 rebounds.
As his confidence continued to set in, Kuzma peaked during tournament play. He scored 20 points in all of the Lakers’ last four games, including his championship eruption.
“I didn’t know I was that aggressive,” Kuzma laughed. “I wasn’t like that in college. Definitely not that aggressive. When I’m locked in and focused, I can do pretty much anything I want.”