Kuzma: Game-winner over Nuggets shows Lakers 'trust in me'
Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association / Getty

Kyle Kuzma isn't the Los Angeles Lakers' No. 1 late-game option, but he proved he's capable of hitting in the clutch with his game-winning 3-pointer Monday against the Denver Nuggets.

With 4.5 seconds left, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel drew up a rare play for Kuzma that began with LeBron James inbounding the ball from the sideline. After passing it to Anthony Davis, James fooled Denver's defense by cutting inside, allowing Kuzma to stroll to the 3-point line unmarked before drilling the shot over an outstretched Bol Bol.

"It just shows that my teammates and my coaches, they trust in me," he told ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "The trust that they have in me. You know, every time that we ran that play in practice, I kind of hit the shot. So they kind of just went to me.

"Obviously, the play, nine out of 10 times, is going to LeBron; but you know, called my number, and it's all about trust."

Up until Monday, Kuzma had only taken five shots in his career within the last 10 seconds that would tie or take the lead in a close game, courtesy of Stathead. Monday's attempt was his first time making the shot under those circumstances.

Kuzma finished the night with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field (3-of-5 from three), adding six rebounds, three assists, and two steals. He was also a plus-16 in just under 33 minutes, the highest plus-minus among all Lakers starters in the win.

James, who's usually the one saving the Lakers late, says the team needs Kuzma to continue performing as he did Monday if they want to make a title run.

"In order for us to win a championship, he has to be our third-best player," he said. "And if I'm struggling or AD's struggling, he has to be our second-best player on any given night. It's just, we can't win a championship if Kuz doesn't play well."

Kuzma: Game-winner over Nuggets shows Lakers 'trust in me'
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