On a night when the Washington Wizards were missing two of their top scorers in Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, it was Kyle Kuzma who proved himself a hero by taking his team above the Chicago Bulls. 100-97 victory. It ended the night with Kuzma finishing with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists on 45 percent shooting from the field.
With 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Kuzma used a screen from Taj Gibson to force Alex Caruso off him and created enough room to hit a vanishing 3-pointer that hit right on target to give the Wizards a 3-pointer. lead with 5.7 seconds left.
The 3-pointer was Kuzma’s only shot from deep that evening, as he was 0-for-3 before an eventual game win. It also broke a nearly four-minute scoring drought for the Wizards, with Kuzma missing two of his previous three-point attempts in that stretch. It was a bold victory for the Wizards, who were 13 points behind by the break, but thanks to Monte Morris’ 15-point run in the third quarter, the Wizards not only completely closed the gap by the start of the fourth quarter, but were seven points higher.
However, Chicago did not leave quietly as Zach LaVine tried to lead the Bulls to victory. It was LaVina’s three-pointer with 30 seconds left to tie the score at 97 each, giving him 38 points for the night. But Kuzma outdid LaVine’s efforts, helping the Wizards snap a three-game losing streak.
Kuzma’s heroism at the end of the game highlights a year of his career in Washington. The sixth-year forward is averaging 21.3 points along with 7.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists and has been an integral part of the Wizards’ success. Although the Washingtons are currently on the sidelines watching the playoff picture as the game separates them from the final play-in spot, this team has shown that when they are healthy, they can be competitive.
The timing of Kuzma’s outstanding season presents an intriguing situation for the Wizards. Kuzma will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and will likely receive offers from several rival teams looking to increase their scoring and defensive versatility. It has already been reported that the Wizards view Kuzma as “piece for the future of this team, but if Kuzma leaves this summer, Washington will lose him for nothing. That’s where the trade deadline comes in, with just under a month left on Feb. 9. Kuzma is sure to be a highly coveted trade. candidate, and given the way he’s been playing lately, the Wizards could get a decent income for him.
While Kuzma’s performance has fired up the team this season, his trading stock is also at an all-time high, and that Wednesday night game-winning 3-pointer only added to it.