Kent Bazemore: Now that the dust has settled I would li…

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March 25, 2019 | 8:26 pm EDT Update
Of the four, Ball and Ingram are done for the season, and Hart might be on the way there dealing with knee tendinitis that has refused to go away. All that’s left is Kuzma, soldiering on in what is already a lost campaign, trying to glean the fringe benefits in these final games. “Those are my guys,” Kuzma said. “We all have great chemistry with each other, we all play well together. It’s kind of just tough.”
Kuzma doesn’t see the last nine Lakers games as fruitless time, either. He’s sought to use those minutes as a workshop for his game. He’s noticed that defenders are treating him as a scorer and less as a passer – giving him a lane to become more of a distributor in the absence of Ball, Ingram and other important playmakers on the roster. “We have guys who need the ball, and I’m a guy who creates a lot of attention out on the court because of the way I score and shoot the ball,” he said. “I think it’s my job to just continue to develop and become a playmaker, and just grow an all-around game.”
D’Angelo Russell was basking in the postgame glow of leading the Nets to a must-have win over his former Lakers team Friday night with his third straight double-double. Someone asked the Nets’ star how important veterans such as DeMarre Carroll, Ed Davis and Jared Dudley have been in terms of helping a young team cope with the stress of fighting for a playoff berth for the first time in many of their careers. “Huge, huge, all of them,” Russell said. “I can go to them about what to say, how to think, my mentality, and they prepare me the best way they can. I appreciate it.”
It’s that dead-honest quality Russell most appreciates about the Nets’ trio of elder statesmen. Last season, most of those duties fell to Carroll because Jeremy Lin was away from the team rehabbing an injury. So, Carroll welcomed the addition this season of Davis and Dudley. “I don’t have to scream and yell at the guys all the time and they hear the same voice all the time,” Carroll said. “I think those guys really give me a lot of relief from that aspect. We take turns, and we know which guys like each other and which guys we can talk to more. It’s been key. Those two guys have been amazing.”