Quinn Cook

Watch LeBron James’ third straight triple-double as Lakers rally past Bulls

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CHICAGO (AP) — LeBron James and Anthony Davis watched and cheered as Kyle Kuzma powered a big fourth-quarter run for Los Angeles.

Sure, James was his usual brilliant self. But Kuzma’s performance was a big deal for the rolling Lakers.

James had 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his third consecutive triple-double, and Los Angeles rallied to beat the Chicago Bulls 118-112 on Tuesday night for its sixth straight victory.

Kuzma scored 11 of his 15 points in the final period during his third game after missing the start of the season with a right ankle injury. The 24-year-old guard got hurt while playing for USA Basketball this past summer.

“I’m getting there,” Kuzma said. “It’s a process, I know. It’s all about being patient right now because I haven’t really had much basketball time since August.”

Kuzma averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season. The Lakers are hoping he can provide a viable third option alongside the leading duo of James and Davis.

“Kuz got into a rhythm, and that’s what he’s capable of,” James said.

Los Angeles trailed by 19 before outscoring Chicago 38-19 in the fourth during the finale of a three-game trip. Kuzma began the quarter with seven straight points, part of a 16-0 run that lifted the Lakers to a 96-93 lead with 8:12 left.

James was on the bench for most of the big spurt, and Davis watched the entire run from the sideline.

“A.D. was in foul trouble. Bron was exhausted,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Both of those guys needed to stay on the bench and other guys needed to step up, and they did.”

Chicago lost for the fifth time in six games. Zach LaVine scored 26 points, and Wendell Carter Jr. had 11 points and 11 rebounds in his third straight double-double. Coby White and Otto Porter Jr. each scored 18 points.

“This one hurts,” LaVine said. “We were beating them up until the fourth quarter. We’re showing we can play with these teams. We know we’re talented. We’ve had 10-, 12-, 16-point leads on a lot of teams, but we’re losing games. It’s frustrating.”

The Bulls used a 16-2 run to open a 60-42 lead with 2:49 left in the first half. Carter’s two foul shots made it 63-44 with 2:10 to go.

“We’ve got to learn to finish,” coach Jim Boylen said. “They finished and we didn’t.”

Kuzma got some help as the Lakers rallied in the fourth. Quinn Cook scored eight of his season-high 17 in the final period. Dwight Howard had a key block on White during the big run.

James helped close it out after he checked in with 8:37 remaining. He found Davis for an alley-oop jam that made it 114-101 with 2:04 left.

Davis finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in his first game in his native Chicago since he was acquired in a trade with New Orleans.

LeBron James says Lakers offense needs to run through Anthony Davis

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Lakers players got the memo: Don’t talk about a title. Don’t talk about the incredibly deep West or that other team in Staples Center. Instead, talk about process and building chemistry. Talk about one day at a time, do not talk about the end result.

“I think our biggest opponent is in the mirror. We’ve got to look at ourselves as a team,” GM Rob Pelinka said, adding he would define success as a good two practices tomorrow.

“Been very quiet this summer, for a reason. My mother always taught me, ‘Don’t talk about it, be about it.’ That’s where I’m at,” LeBron James said.

It felt well rehearsed, but saying it in a Lakers’ practice facility where 10 Larry O’Brien trophies sit gleaming in a window overlooking the courts, where 12 banners representing 16 championships (the Minneapolis one has five on it) hang overhead, the words fall a little flat.

Everyone knows what the expectations are. The Lakers may have missed the playoffs for six seasons in a row, but with Anthony Davis now, a refreshed LeBron James after the longest summer break he’s had since 2005, and with a lot of veteran role players, the expectations are title or bust. From the fans and from the Lakers themselves.

First that means turning a lot of new faces into a real team.

LeBron said that starts by running the offense through Anthony Davis.

“We do all know how good Anthony Davis is, and if we are not playing through Anthony Davis while he is on the floor, then there’s no sense to have him on the floor,” LeBron said. “He’s that great. It doesn’t mean every time down, we throw it to him, we throw it to him, we throw it to him. But we have the ability of doing it.”

“Aw, he said that?” Davis said later, almost sheepishly. “Very kind of him. We’re going to feed off each other tremendously. I think we’re two guys who are very selfless and just want to win, when we have two guys like that it makes both of our jobs easier.”

Nobody really questions if LeBron and Davis can be elite, and probably form the best pick-and-roll combo in the league.

The question is everyone around them. Can Kyle Kuzma — once he gets healthy from the stress reaction in his leg — become the No. 3 option on this team?  Is Dwight Howard willing to accept a role and play it well as a big who just sets picks, rolls hard, grabs boards and defends the rim? Do they have enough shooting with Danny Green, Quinn Cook, and Jared Dudley, plus a little Davis? Will this team defend well.

Also, can this team coalesce into something greater than the sum of its parts?

“Guys understand the importance of the opportunity and the magnitude of the situation,” Green said, at points referencing a team bonding trip to Las Vegas recently. “It’s a win-now situation. [Last season in Toronto] guys put their pride and egos to the side, and knew it was the team. I see it here already… It’s about the team, and everybody knows that. In order for us to make it, we have to continue that attitude moving forward.”

Guys want to play their roles. Kuzma may be at the heart of what happens, the Lakers need him to take the steps as a smart offensive player he showed in flashes with Team USA before his injury. And he has to play better defense.

Dudley wants to help get him there.

“My guy would be Kyle Kuzma,” Dudley said, adding he wants to do is take him under his wing as he did D'Angelo Russell last season in Brooklyn and Devin Booker in Phoenix before that. “What can I do off the court to help him get to his full potential? He’s really the key for us.”

Optimism abounded at Lakers’ media day, as it should. Guys are mostly healthy, rested, and ready to get after it.

On this first day, the Lakers stuck to the script. They also understand the expectation of those trophies and banners overhead.

“As a team, me myself, need to get the Lakers back to what they’ve been accustomed to every year,” LeBron said.

 

 

Quinn Cook says Lakers chemistry impressive, some players already working out together

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The Lakers enter this season title contenders. Which is where the franchise always believes it belongs.

To be a threat to win it all, two things have to happen for the Lakers. First, LeBron James and Anthony Davis need to stay healthy for the playoffs (health matters to every contending team).

Second, the interesting and diverse patchwork of role players the Lakers put around LeBron and Davis have to come together and contribute in meaningful ways. There needs to be real chemistry.

Quinn Cook, one of those role players the Lakers need, told Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype that relationship is coming together.

We have our team group chat going and the guys are very active in it. It feels like this team has been together for a while. Everyone has been really active in the group chat. Ever since I signed, I went straight to Los Angeles and I’ve been working out with Bron, Kuz, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and JaVale [McGee]. We’ve been working on a lot of stuff and I’m getting a chance to learn from the coaching staff, getting a chance to talk to Coach Vogel a lot and work out with Coach [Miles] Simon. Everyone has been so welcoming since day one when I signed. I know the other guys will start to trickle in; it’s still really early in the summer. As guys trickle in, we’ll keep working hard and getting ready for the season. All of the guys are really excited to get things going, man. I know this NBA season will be one of the better ones for everyone – from players to coaches to fans. If you’re a fan of basketball, this season will be amazing.

It’s a good sign for the Lakers this is happening organically, especially with a roster loaded with new faces.

Also, know that just about every team can say the same thing right now as players start to ramp up their workouts heading into the season. Each team is different and some have more established chemistry already, but this is not uncommon.

It’s going to be a wild NBA season in Los Angeles. This is just the start.

Report: Lakers to make LeBron James starting point guard

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The Lakers pitched LeBron James on playing more off the ball.

That plan predictably flopped.

His supporting cast was lacking. Though he indicated a desire to spend more time off the ball, when push came to shove, LeBron took over. Just like always.

This year, there won’t be any pretenses.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

The new-look Los Angeles Lakers are heading into the 2019-20 season with the intention of starting LeBron James at point guard, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers’ other options at starting point guard:

So, LeBron will now fill a position of need while opening a starting forward spot that can be filled by someone better than those other point guards. The Lakers could start Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Kyle Kuzma in the frontcourt. But who besides Danny Green will defend opposing guards?

The Lakers could also start Green and either Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Avery Bradley in a three-guard lineup with LeBron running the point but defending a forward. At that point, there wouldn’t be a massive difference in LeBron’s role relative to what he has always done.

No matter what, the offense will run through LeBron. By naming LeBron point guard, the Lakers just avoid starting another player who operates primarily with the ball. In the micro, this is a good, clarifying move.

In the macro, LeBron is 34 years old. If he’s tasked with bring up the ball and initiating the offense every time, that adds to his load. When playing forward next to a point guard, it’s easier for LeBron to defer at times.

Expect this to make the Lakers better – as long as LeBron’s health holds up.

Report: Lakers bringing back Alex Caruso for another season

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Fan favorite and hustling back up point guard Alex Caruso will be back with the Lakers.

With minutes available at the point, the Lakers went with a name they knew, a player who came up through their G-League program, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Caruso will be fighting with Rajon Rondo and Quinn Cook for minutes.

Most likely Rondo will start at the point for the Lakers because he’s Rondo. There are politics to be played, veterans to be appeased. But the Lakers need to consider giving Caruso a real chance to get rotation minutes, he was +9.1 per 100 when on the court with LeBron last season.

The 6’5″ point guard out of Texas A&M has good size and defends his position well, and he plays well working off the ball, or he can run the show as a lead guard for a stretch. He isn’t a great shooter, but he took two threes a game in the 25 games he was in last season and hit them (48 percent), and with his size he’s a pretty good finisher at the rim. His handles aren’t quite where they need to be, but we’ll see what the hard worker looks like after a summer in the gym.

Outside Los Angles, Caruso gets a shrug from fans, but in LA he’s become a fan favorite and has looked like a rotation-level guard. Which is basically what Rondo and Cook are. We’ll see what kind of minutes Caruso gets, but he deserves a few.