Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Editor’s note: This is the Nov. 6, 2019 edition of the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.In the scheme of the sports world, the NBA locker room is small and intimate. This becomes even more true on the road, as teams cram into visiting locker rooms, and it’s a challenge to not step on a pair of shoes, knock over a water bottle, or avoid jostling ice baths where players are resting their sore legs and feet.Reporters get to know a lot of NBA players well, and on a team like the Lakers, LeBron James and Anthony Davis talk almost every day — sometimes twice a day.But even in this close of a setting, it’s difficult to talk to everyone, especially for players down the end of the bench. As superstars draw big hordes of media craning arms to put recorders and cameras in position, others slip out of the locker room after a game relatively unnoticed. Frank Vogel was among those firmly in Cook’s fanbase: “I love that kid, you know?”Vogel had pulled on Cook’s minutes recently, but between Cook’s even-keel attitude and hope that his 3-point shooting would turn around.“Alex’s defense has been exceptional of late so he’s been getting those minutes but we’ve all been trying to make sure Quinn stays lifted,” Vogel said. “I told him when he came in, ‘Hey, every NBA game is different. I mean one night, you might get four or five minutes, the next night you’re called upon to play a bigger role.’ And that was tonight for him and he stepped up bigtime.”Cook’s 15 points and leadership during the fourth quarter rally were crucial elements. But he seemed a little averse to taking too much credit. He talked about the encouragement the five-man reserve lineup felt from the bench and how much it helped. He talked about LeBron James’ (admittedly overshadowed) triple-double as he kept the Lakers’ pulse still beating.Cook knows what a championship-caliber team is like. After the Lakers had, at one point, build a 29-4 advantage on the Bulls, I asked him how it compared to the famous dominating runs of Golden State, who almost inevitably overwhelmed opponents in the second half.“The biggest thing is there is never any panic,” Cook said. “Obviously when you’re down double-digits, coming in at halftime, it’s easy to point the finger. It’s easy to yell at each other, but (Vogel) was very positive. He was building us up. Bron was vocal. AD was very vocal. Everybody was vocal. (Rondo) was vocal. It was just staying the course, no panic. That’s what we did. We stayed the course and got it done.”KUZ EDGING BACK TO HIMSELFHow badly did the Lakers need Kyle Kuzma?The Lakers are just 20th in bench points (32 per game) and a bench theoretically stocked with shooters is just 27 percent from the 3-point line (23rd among benches in the league). At his best, obviously, Kuzma can help reverse this trend. Vogel has talked about the forward becoming a sort of super-sixth man in line with a Lou Williams or Eric Gordon-type scorer.To do that, Kuzma needs to score, which has been touch-and-go. He slumped at the start, but his 11 fourth-quarter points were huge as the Lakers flattened Chicago at the finish. He’s still shooting just 12 for 31 from the field (and 2 for 16 on threes), but he’s hoping as his leg strength returns, he’ll find more shooting consistency.“I’m kind of just a rhythm player, and I kinda found a little bit of it, and just kinda rode the wave,” he said. “As I continue to get back into game shape and mental form from a game standpoint, get my timing right, I expect it to slow down.”It was interesting when asked about Kuzma’s performance, James said he could relate. He thought Kuzma’s first half was rushed, something he ran into last year as he tried to come back from his own injury.“As a competitor and as good as he is, I tried to get it all back last year too after I tore my groin when I first came back in the Clipper game,” he said. “Your rhythm is going to be off a little bit and you just have to continue to go through it, but Kuz is going to be a great piece for our team. He showed that tonight.”CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELFAlex Caruso, too, got a big bucket down the stretch, and got fouled. The Lakers’ meme-star-in-chief got a flex in, and LeBron James came over to give him a bump.I just really enjoyed the quote Caruso gave us on that.“Yeah, Bron’s gotta watch out,” he laughed. “He doesn’t understand the physics of that. He’s got like 60 to 80 pounds on me, he’s gotta be… But he gets hype, and I get hype and we just roll with it. I did a good job of just kinda rolling out of that so I didn’t take the full hit.”In a locker room that small and intimate, it’s helpful to have a sense of humor.— Kyle GoonThanks for reading the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.Click-er-doodle-dooBoost from the bench – Here’s the full account from the Lakers’ 19-point comeback, which poked a hole in the premise that AD and LeBron need to be on the floor. Shadow of free agency – Anthony Davis accidentally creates a buzz in Chicago on an innocent question about his hometown team.LeBron back to his old defensive self? – The rise of the Lakers in the rankings is in part because the King is getting dirty on the defensive end.Bad News Bears – Catch up on Mirjam’s last newsletter on Dwight Howard’s impact off the bench (and more coming on that soon).Unfolding I Promise – LeBron’s school is adding transitional housing for needy families, something James has personal experience with. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersJust seven games in, Quinn Cook has been one of those players for the Lakers, and on this road trip, even moreso as his minutes shrunk under the five-minute mark for the first two games in Texas. But on Tuesday night, after helping key a 14-0 bench run that gave the Lakers a 118-112 win over Chicago, he had a moment to take some of the spotlight — and he had a few interesting things to say.It’s worth remembering that Cook has been a supporting piece of many great teams. He played at the prep powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, and was the senior leader on a 2015 Duke team that won the national title mostly with freshmen. After the past two seasons with the Warriors, when he went to the Finals twice and one the title once, he’s been afforded a surprising amount of perspective for a player on the back end of a rotation.He’s used to being patient. On Tuesday night, he cited influences like Mike Krzyzewski, Shaun Livingston and Steph Curry as people who have helped him find that Buddha-like balance.“I had great teammates, man,” he said. “Every stop that I went to, they were always building me up and they always told me, ‘It might not be your time, but your time is coming. Stay ready.’ Stuff like that. I’ve been fortunate enough.”While Cook hasn’t been the focus much this season, there’s been enough talk about him in the rest of the locker room to form an impression. His teammates like him. His coaches trust him. While he started in a shooting slump, and while he was displaced in the lineup by Alex Caruso’s rise and Kyle Kuzma’s return, behind the scenes others in the Lakers have remained confident of his ability to step in.