LOS ANGELES — Forward Kyle Kuzma will undergo a MRI on Thursday to look at a lower back contusion, Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton said after his team’s 107-100 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
Kuzma, the Lakers’ second-leading scorer this season with an 18.3 points average, was limited to only 4 points on 1-for-4 shooting, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 3 steals in 16 minutes against the Thunder. He exited the game at halftime and did not return after having his back examined by Lakers athletic trainer Marco Nunez.
“He got hit somewhere in the game, something happened during the game,” Walton said. “You could notice he was starting to limp in those last couple minutes he was playing. He said he was fine. They worked on it at halftime; just said, ‘No go.'”
L.A. was already without LeBron James (strained groin), Rajon Rondo (hand surgery) and Michael Beasley (personal reasons) for the Oklahoma City game, not to mention the fact that JaVale McGee is still recovering from a bout of pneumonia.
The Lakers dropped to 1-3 without James.
“We just got to keep playing,” Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball said. “We all love Kuz, we love what he does for this team. But at the end of the day, if he can’t go, we got to step up, and that’s what it is. We got a lot of injuries right now, which is unfortunate. And we’re looking forward to getting everybody back.”
At 21-17, the Lakers currently have the No. 8 record in the Western Conference. Not too long ago they were fourth.
“We got to play every game to win, firstly, in the West,” Ball said. “We keep slipping the more we lose, so got to turn it around.”
The Lakers were outscored 29-18 in the fourth quarter Wednesday and also blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to Sacramento and a double-digit second-half lead in a loss to the LA Clippers while being undermanned.
“I think some of it’s experience,” Josh Hart said. “We don’t have a 16-year vet [in James] and what’s Rondo, a 13- or 14-year vet? So, that’s tough. Obviously we have two- or three-year players trying to close out games and it’s something that’s new to us. Obviously we did a little bit last year, but this year we always had Bron, we had Do [Rondo], and guys like that to help settle things down and get us in the stuff.
“It’s still new, but I think we’re all capable of it. But we just got to, when adversity strikes or offense is stalling and the other team is making a run, we’ve just got to do a good job of turning down OK shots for better shots, getting the ball going, defense going and making it easier for us.”