Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said his team was built at the start of the season for stretches in the schedule like they will face over the next, two weeks.
The Lakers will be without Anthony Davis for at least the next four weeks as he recovers from a lingering calf strain. And Dennis Schröder has been ruled out for a second straight game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Vogel said the timeline is uncertain when Schröder will be available. Alex Caruso missed five games earlier this season due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
Davis and Schröder combined to average nearly 37 points a contest this season. But with those two starters unavailable as the Lakers faced with an NBA finals rematch in the Miami Heat at Staples Center on Saturday, Vogel will look to bench players like Kyle Kuzma, Wesley Matthews, Montrezl Harrell and Caruso to fill the scoring void.
Markieff Morris and Talen Horton-Tucker also will take on larger roles in the offense.
“We have plenty of firepower,” reiterated Vogel. “We have enough to win games most nights. And that’s going to be the plan, to continue to adjust who we have on the floor and continue to win games.”
One of those players Vogel will lean on more is Kuzma. The 6-9 forward has focused on defense and rebounding this season but will be required to do more offensively with Davis and Schröder out.
“I feel really good,” Kuzma said. “I feel great mentally and physically. I’ve haven’t been playing big minutes this year, so I’m relatively fresh compared to other guys that played in the playoffs and have played big minutes his year.
“As a team, it’s still the same mantra, day-by-day just trying to chop wood and figuring it out. We knew this year wasn’t going to be perfect obviously due to COVID having Dennis out and unfortunate with the short turnaround having AD (Davis) get banged up a little bit. But our heads our high.”
In eight starts this season, Kuzma’s averaging 13.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 31 minutes a contest.
“Obviously, I’m a small forward and a power forward, and those two positions (on the Lakers) are the best in the league,” Kuzma said. “So, it’s going to be very scarce for me out there from an offensive standpoint.
“For me, I’ve got to figure out ways to just do other things, and just not be a zombie on the court like I was last year standing around and doing things. I’m just trying to go out there and compete.”
After a hot-shooting start to the season, the Lakers have cooled significantly from beyond the arc. In nine games during the month of February, L.A. is shooting 29.2 percent from the 3-point line. The Lakers shot 41.7 percent from the 3-point line in five games during the month of December.
Vogel expects things to come around again for the Lakers.
“There’s ways we can improve our execution to help us shoot the ball better from the perimeter,” Vogel said. “But we’re just in a little bit of a cold streak from the perimeter and we’ll work on those things.”