On Saturday night, Kyle Kuzma scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Los Angeles Lakers over the Memphis Grizzlies, 100-93, and snap a seven-game losing streak in Memphis, a streak tracing all the way back to 2013.
However, a slow start saw LA in familiar territory, trailing by double digits in Memphis, and the streak looked like it may have been extended for another season. When Wayne Selden converted a couple free throws just over nine minutes into the game, the Grizzles led by 17 points and the game looked like it may get out of hand.
After all, the Lakers had only scored 10 points at that stage and didn't look like a team ready to compete. Instead, the Lakers went on to put together a 7-1 run to close the quarter, with Lonzo Ball even managing to make a three-pointer. Unfortunately, it would be the struggling rookie point guard's only three-point make on the night.
However, Ball scored 12 points on 5/13 shooting and nearly recorded a triple-double with 10 assists and rebounds on the night.
In the second quarter, Travis Wear took advantage of his opportunity once again. The Mater Dei High School and UCLA product put together an impressive first half where he scored a team-high 11 points and made three of his five attempts from distance. Wear was tied to game-high honors when the two teams went to their respective locker rooms for the mid-game chat, with the Lakers only trailing by five points thanks largely to the former Bruin's bench play.
For the Grizzlies, shooting guard Andrew Harrison scored 11 points and also recorded six assists in 18 first-half minutes, while JaMychal Green started strong with 11 points and eight rebounds in the first half.
Struck by the injury bug, which bit Isaiah Thomas and even seldom seen Luol Deng, the Lakers were short on bodies and only played three guys off the bench: Tyler Ennis, Ivica Zubac and Wear.
Still, the Lakers managed to tie the game at 59-59 a shade over two minutes into the second half. The Grizzlies, though, responded with a 9-0 run over the next 90 seconds to force a timeout from the visitors.
The remainder of the third quarter proved to be a slog, especially for the home team on the offensive end. By the time finally expired on the period, the Lakers had levelled the score at 71-71.
Four minutes into the final quarter, the Lakers held a slim lead at 80-79 after Kuzma hit his third three-pointer of the night. Kuzma followed up by hitting another jump shot moments later to give the visitors a three-point lead. Known to get hot in a hurry, the Lakers' rookie forward followed up with a running hook shot over Marc Gasol to give the purple and gold a five-point edge with 6:38 remaining in the game.
The home team did not simply give in, of course. At the four minute mark, the Lakers led by one point, but Kuzma again responded with a bucket to help the Lakers maintain a lead. Every time the Grizzlies got close, the Lakers seemed to respond.
While far from his best game, Julius Randle scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds on the night and made key plays down the stretch.
The star of the game, though, was Kuzma. The Flint, Michigan native finished the night with 25 points and 10 rebounds, including an important three-pointer in the final minute of the contest to effectively put the game to bed.
Ball missing a couple foul shots may have temporarily made the game look like it may need to get back out of bed, but Kuzma knocked down a couple of free throws to end the contest.
With the victory, the Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak and a four-game road losing streak, along with the seven-game losing streak in Memphis. Next, the Lakers wrap up their road trip in Detroit, which is in Kuzma's home state.
Thomas is expected to be unavailable for that game due to his hip injury, as well.
Notes: All five Grizzlies' starters scored in double figures, with Harrison leading the way with 20 points. Green finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds in the loss.