The Los Angeles Lakers close out their regular season Thursday when they face the Sacramento Kings at The Field House inside the NBA bubble near Orlando.
The Lakers (52-18), who are 3-4 in the NBA restart, are trying to win consecutive games for the first time since entering the bubble. They snapped a three-game losing streak Monday night in a 124-121 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Kyle Kuzma's 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left lifted the Lakers, who trailed late despite the Nuggets playing their reserves during the entire fourth quarter.
James led the Lakers with 29 points and 12 assists. Anthony Davis had 27 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Kuzma finished with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting.
In nine starts this season, Kuzma has averaged 20.9 points and 5.4 rebounds on 49.7 percent shooting.
"Kuz is a confident young kid, a confident young man, and I'm happy to have him on our side," James said after the win, according to the Los Angeles Times. "You have that confidence, and he goes out and just plays. He's worked a lot. Like I said, he's still young, it's crazy, he's only in his third year. But he's gotten better.
"His game is starting to slow down. He's starting to see the game at a pace which works not only for himself but works for our team. Confident player, and you've gotta have confidence to take a shot like that and make it."
Since clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference by defeating the Utah Jazz on Aug. 3, the Lakers struggled offensively until edging the Nuggets. They made just 20 of 95 3-point attempts in three games before converting 14 of 29 against Denver. James hit a team-high 5 of 11 3-pointers against the Nuggets.
Los Angeles also got a boost off the bench from Dion Waiters, who scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
The Kings (30-41), who were eliminated from the postseason, earned a 112-106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday behind 25 points and eight boards by Harrison Barnes. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
"I thought we finally started playing some defense in the second half, which was good to see," Kings coach and former Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "We still got to be smarter about the way we're playing, but at least we showed some toughness, we showed some defensive grit there in the second half, so I was happy with that.
"Anytime you're in this type of situation and your team shows up and competes -- which is what I expect our guys to do -- I'm happy they didn't go the other direction."
Sacramento (30-41) led 62-61 at the half before pushing the lead to double digits in the third quarter, when they outscored New Orleans 32-23 for a 94-84 lead heading into the fourth.
The Pelicans rallied late in the contest after a Frank Jackson basket pulled them within 110-106 with 31 seconds left, but two foul shots by Nemanja Bjelica, who finished with 13 points, sealed the win for the Kings.
The Kings are 2-5 in the bubble, with both victories coming against the Pelicans. Their playoff drought has been extended to 14 seasons.
--Field Level Media