Kyle Kuzma pulled from Lakers starting lineup in surprising change vs. Jazz
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Lakers coach Frank Vogel has decided to replace Kuzma with Markeiff Morris in the starting five:
Talen Horton-Tucker and Markieff Morris are starting vs. the Jazz.
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) February 25, 2021
It is worth noting that Talen Horton-Tucker is set to make his first start of the season for the Lakers and just his second career start. He takes the place of Dennis Schroder, who continues to be sidelined due to health and safety protocols.
As for Kuzma, his demotion to the second unit comes as a bit of a surprise. The 25-year-old has played relatively well as a starter for the past four games, deputizing for the injured Anthony Davis.
Kuzma has seen a significant increase in his usage sans Davis. On Monday’s overtime loss against the Washington Wizards, Kuzma logged a season-high 37 minutes. He did go 5-of-16 from the field, though.
The reason behind coach Vogel’s lineup change remains unclear, but there’s no denying that he’s put a lot of thought into this as the defending champs take on the best team in the NBA today. The fact that L.A. has lost three straight and four out of their last five surely factored into his decision here.
LeBron James will continue to carry much of the load for a shorthanded Lakers side, whose struggles of late have been well-publicized. Things only get tougher as they attempt to take down the mighty Jazz on Wednesday night.