);
Los Angeles Lakers

Kyle Kuzma drops career-high 41, leads Lakers to second straight win without LeBron

Kyle Kuzma had 41 points without taking the court in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Kuzma had 41 points without taking the court in the fourth quarter. (Getty Images)

Prior to this Pistons' game, the young Los Angeles Lakers had the second-worst offense over the past seven games (all without LeBron James).

However, sophomore Kyle Kuzma carried the team's offense on Thursday, erupting for a career-high 41 points (22 points in the third quarter) and leading the Lakers to a 13-point win over the Detroit Pistons.

It would have been lovely to see Kuzma try to get 50 but he wasn't needed in the final quarter as the team cruised to the win. The Lakers ran away with this game when they outscored the Pistons 35-23 in the second quarter and they never looked back.

Other key contributors were Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, a duo who had spectacular all-round games combining for 15 points, 17 assists and 14 rebounds. The Lakers played almost all of the fourth quarter with their bench allowing Michael Beasley to drop a season-high 19 points (9-13 FG's) on his 30th birthday. Backup center Ivica Zubac recorded a near double-double with 11 points and 9 rebounds in 24 minutes.

As a team, the Lakers shot 56.1% from the field and dished out 30 assists on their 46 field goals.

This win gives the team their first back-to-back victories without LeBron James, and improves their record to 3-5 without the 4-time league MVP.

Coming to the Pistons, it was a disastrous return to Los Angeles for Blake Griffin. He scored 16 points on 42.9% shooting and for the first time in his career finished a regular season game without recording a rebound.

Detroit now slumps to 4-15 since their 13-7 start and are now headed to Sacramento to play the Kings on a back-to-back. Meanwhile, the Lakers improve to 23-19, just 1 game behind Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs, who are tied for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

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