All the need-to-know info from Wednesday’s slate.
Let’s Talk About the Lakers’ Rookie
December 19, 6:13 p.m. ET: Kyle Kuzma says (OK, tweets), “Worry about YOUR MARATHON. Everybody else’s race is irrelevant.”
December 20, 8 p.m. ET: Kuzma’s marathon begins.
In the first half of the Lakers’ contest against Houston, Kuzma was perfect from the field, going 9-for-9 overall and 6-for-6 from deep. He ended the night with a career-high 38 points on 17 shots to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Swoon.
It was the first time in December that Luke Walton started Kuzma. The Lakers’ typical starting line was missing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Walton ended up limiting Julius Randle to eight minutes. (He didn’t play Tyler Ennis at all.)
Did anyone even notice? Or was it all about Kyle going on Kuz Control (which, ironically, is not really a joke or concept that Angeleno drivers understand)?
Hasn't LMA Done Enough to Portland?
Jeremy Lamb Was a Grown-Ass Jeremy Sheep Tonight
While the rest of the Hornets ended the first half against Toronto in single digits, Lamb exploded for 19 of Charlotte’s 47 points. It was more than any Raptors player had at the break, and he ended with a game-high, career-high 32 to finish the Hornets’ 129-111 loss.
The Beard Gets That Big Baller Block
James Harden and Lonzo Ball go head to head! pic.twitter.com/ULvNSCXWRw— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 21, 2017
Speaking of Chris Paul ...
The 32-year-old exited the game early in the fourth quarter due to soreness in his left leg. Houston missed Paul down the stretch: The Rockets were playing without Clint Capela, who was kept out with a calf contusion, and P.J. Tucker joined him on the bench in the final quarter after fouling out with four minutes left.
Houston lost to the Lakers, 122-116, ending its 14-game win streak. But on the bright side, Texas, you have James Harden, who dropped 51 points.
Fifty-one. Points. That’s seven more than all of his teammates not named Eric Gordon combined. He also set a franchise record for the most consecutive 20-point games in a single season with 30.
Paul George Owes Someone a Derrick Favors
Ew, Paul George..... that's nasty pic.twitter.com/TgwsvFiVYx— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 21, 2017
Your Chicago Bulls Have Won Seven Straight (???)
Chicago continued its streak by beating the Magic, 112-94. But the youngins face Cleveland on Thursday, so …
Enjoy this Kris Dunn pass in the meantime:
DSJ Is Back. Just Ask Reggie Jackson.
But please don't get us a tech pic.twitter.com/ElvERFVanZ— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 21, 2017
French Draymond Brings Out the Bow-and-Arrow Dab
If you learn one thing about Celtics rookie Guerschon Yabusele this season—other than his two nicknames, French Draymond and Dancing Bear—let it be his celebration of choice after hitting a 3-pointer. Yabusele pulls back to shoot a bow-and-arrow, then seamlessly (some would say expertly) morphs it into a dab.
Yabo has made six 3s in the 12 games Brad Stevens has played him this season, so catching his Katniss-inspired dab live is like seeing James Harden’s chin sans beard or a Yeti or Shabazz Muhammad throwing an assist. Rare, folks! Happy staking out.
Little-Known Fact: Santa Has Won Two Dunk Contests
Let the sentence “It’s Zach LaVine with a puppy!” forever be in your hearts.
Zach LaVine really just gave this girl a puppy after her dog passed away and I'm an emotional wreck right now pic.twitter.com/gSwig6IZuL— Hayley Archer (@HayleyKArcher) December 21, 2017
A Serge Surge
Jayson Tatum’s dislocated finger …
Jayson Tatum's finger is not supposed to point that way pic.twitter.com/TNekITQyFU— SB Nation (@SBNation) December 21, 2017
… or the dunk he threw down after he returned to the game?
Tatum left the court with nine minutes to go in the first quarter after his finger was stepped on by Josh Richardson (and ended up grossly pointing in a direction the good lord never intended for any limb). Boston ultimately lost, 90-89, after a last-second attempt from Kyrie Irving failed.