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Kuzma: Lakers can find success with small-ball 'death lineup'

Kuzma: Lakers can find success with small-ball 'death lineup'

Injuries currently prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from trotting one out, but forward Kyle Kuzma believes the team can accomplish great things by consistently using a "death lineup."

"Honestly think our small-ball unit can be really good," Kuzma said ahead of Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "I think we can have a death lineup, whether that's (Rajon) Rondo and Lonzo (Ball) on the floor at the same time and me and (Brandon Ingram) and (Le)Bron (James), or substituting guys.

"I think as we get better defensively and get more continuity, that small-ball lineup is going to be huge for us, especially in the playoffs when everybody's going to be going small."

The five-man unit proposed by Kuzma has played just a single minute together this season. James is currently sidelined with a groin strain while Rondo remains out after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his finger.

The 23-year-old sophomore admitted the Lakers haven't practiced much with his version of the "death lineup," nor have they run it in games because Rondo and Ball rarely see the floor at the same time.

"Rondo's always on the second unit," he said. "He's always leading that team. We never really get to it in games because those guys kind of flip-flop. From a small-ball standpoint, we go to it when we're kind of desperate. I think that can be an advantage when we can go to it regularly."

Spreading the floor wouldn't be easy for such a quintet, as Rondo (35.7) and James (35.6) are the only players connecting on at least 35 percent of their 3-point attempts. Ball is slightly lower at 33.5 percent, while Kuzma (29.7) and Ingram (29.1) convert less than 30 percent.

The 6-foot-9 Kuzma proposed he slot in at the four spot while James serves as the untraditional center, and is convinced his defensive growth would facilitate such a lineup.

"The beginning of the year to now, I'm probably a way different defender than I was," he explained. "I think that was one of the biggest reasons holding us back from it, from me guarding bigger guys, switching or whatnot. I think it's going to be a big thing as the season progresses and we use it more."

The Lakers (22-19) currently sit eighth in the Western Conference.

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