Kyle Kuzma spent the first four years of his NBA career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers with home games at Staples Center, LeBron James on his team and A-list celebrities dotting sold-out crowds. So, he could be considered an expert of sorts on in-arena atmospheres. He knows what a good crowd looks and sounds like.
Entering Friday night’s home opener for the Wizards, his first game home regular-season game since being traded to Washington, he wasn’t sure what to think. After their overtime win over the Pacers, consider him impressed.
“Man, I thought it was great. I didn’t expect that many fans to come out, honestly, just from looking at preseason. Man, I was definitely wrong,” he said. “The fans came out, showed out for us. We really, really needed them, especially in those key moments into the fourth and overtime. They helped carry us.”
Kuzma helped the energy in the room with 26 points, 11 rebounds and a steal. He shot 5-for-8 from three, made a tough reverse layup with 59 seconds to go in overtime and then hit the game-sealing free throw with 6.7 seconds left on the clock.
It wasn’t a sellout for the Wizards, as 15,407 were there, about 5,000 short of a packed house. But it was the type of start Kuzma believes the new-look Wizards can build off of. He has talked about changing the culture along with other veterans on the team, many…