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Kyle Kuzma Joins LeBron, Curry and Harden on Elite List, Wants to See Lakers 'Death Lineup' in the Playoffs

Kyle Kuzma scored a career-best 41 points as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night, and said he was excited to see a potential Lakers “death lineup” in the playoffs.

The 23-year-old shot 16-of-24 from the floor, including 5-of-10 from beyond the arc as the Lakers won 113-100 on home court.

Read more: Kevin Durant 'has no clue' where New York Knicks rumors came from 

In the third quarter alone, the second-year guard scored 22 points after hitting four three-pointers and putting together two scoring runs of 10 and six points, respectively.

The Lakers rode Kuzma’s hot hand and opened up a 12-point lead by the end of the third quarter, which the Pistons failed to overcome as they never even got the gap down to single digit in the final period.

Kuzma’s scoring spree saw him join an elite list of players who have scored more than 40 points in three quarters this season.

Along with Kuzma’s teammate LeBron James, Golden State Warriors duo Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and reigning MVP James Harden are the only other players to have managed the feat this season.

With LeBron still out with a groin injury, the Lakers bench played an important role in supporting Kuzma, with three players scoring a combined 45 points.

For the Pistons, Blake Griffin finished with 16 points and six assists, an offensive contribution way off the career-high 25.3 points he has been averaging this season. Andre Drummond was dominant at both ends of the court with 17 rebounds but only scored six points.

The Lakers have gone 3-5 since LeBron got injured on Christmas Day against the Warriors, but have now won the last two consecutive games to improve to 23-19 and strengthen their grip on the last playoff berth in the Western Conference standings.

Due to the nature of the conference this season, the 16-time NBA champions are closer to being the fourth seed in the West than they are to falling out of the playoff picture altogether.

Kuzma believes once LeBron is back to full fitness, the Lakers could field an intriguing “death lineup” in the postseason. “I honestly think our small-ball unit can be really good,” he said on Wednesday ahead of the game, as per ESPN.

“I think we can have a ‘death lineup’. Whether that’s [Rajon] Rondo and Lonzo [Ball] on the floor at the same time, me and BI [Brandon Ingram] or LeBron […] As we get more continuity that small-ball lineup is going to be huge for us.”

The term “death lineup” first made its way into the NBA vocabulary when the Warriors did not field a traditional center in the 2014-15 season, preferring instead to deploy Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Igoudala and Harrison Barnes.

The latter was then replaced by Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016, an instrumental upgrade that has played a crucial role in the Warriors winning the last two NBA titles.

Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers calls for a shooting foul during a 112-104 Laker win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on December 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images

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