In 26:14, James tallied a team-high 31 points and 8 assists. With his third assist, James passed Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas (9,061) to move up to eighth on the all-time assists list. James is the only small forward in the top-10 list.
James wasn’t as aggressive as usual on the boards, but Dwight Howard was able to pick up his slack, grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds. Howard was also the only other player on the team to break 20 points on a night where James’ superstar teammate, Anthony Davis, was sidelined. However, that was negated by the fact that four other players finished the night with double figures, including Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Avery Bradley and Alex Caruso.
Of course, that means Kuzma wasn’t able to extend his streak of 20-point games to three, even though Frank Vogel gave him more freedom to handle the ball. Kuzma finished the night with just 11 points on 5-13 shooting from the field, including 0-3 shooting from behind the 3-point line. Even Howard had more 3-pointers than Kuzma.
While it was just one game, it didn’t do anything to quiet the questions about Kuzma’s fit with this year’s roster when the team is close to full strength. Hopefully Wednesday’s game is more productive for him.
The Lakers, now 33-7, will be back at it on Wednesday to take on the 18-21 Orlando Magic. The Lakers bested the Magic earlier this season, but Orlando have won three of their last five games in spite of losing two of their key players.