Lakers ready for some down time after finishing off Rockets

Lakers guard Danny Green battles Houston's James Harden for rebounding position during Game 5 on Sept. 12, 2020.
Lakers guard Danny Green (14) battles Houston’s James Harden (13) for rebounding position during Game 5 on Saturday night.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

They have been in the NBA bubble for three months now, their minds having been mentally challenged along the way and it has led the Lakers to seeking ways to find relief from the daily monotony.

Forward Kyle Kuzma has found a way to ease his mind while playing on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near here.

The Lakers had just demolished the Houston Rockets 119-96 to advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in 10 years, and Kuzma already had plans for his day off on Sunday.

“Well, first I’m going to get a little mental relief,” Kuzma said via videoconference after posting 17 points, four rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. “I’m going to wake up about 8 a.m. and I’m going to play about 18, 27 holes of golf. That’s first and then watch the [Clippers-Nuggets] game tomorrow and see who wins.”


The Lakers and Kuzma will get some time to reflect on how things have come together after going 8-2 in their first two playoff series, some time to get their bodies and minds in the right mental space because their next playoff series won’t start until Wednesday at the earliest.

In the middle of it all, the players protested, causing games to be postponed while the players and NBA discussed ways to be more proactive in their quest for social justice for Black Americans and other people of color.

Highlights from the Lakers’ 119-96 victory over the Rockets in Game 5 of their playoff series on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Orlando, Fla.

“It’s a lot,” Kuzma said. “This is a great sacrifice. Obviously people think it’s easy being here, but it’s not. We’re not with our families — obviously we have our families here now. It’s very repetitive. You wake up and you see the same buildings, you see the same walls every day. So, it can be a little depressing, a little bit of anxiety. You know, you just got to stay strong and just find other ways to relieve yourself outside of basketball because here it’s all basketball.

“Whether you’re playing games, you got practice, you got film. You go on Twitter, you go somewhere, it’s all basketball. That’s not necessarily the best thing for you, for your brain at least, so you need those type of releases.”

Guard Danny Green had talked Friday about needing an “escape sometimes” while playing in the bubble.

He discussed how difficult it has been to stay focused with so much swirling around.

On Saturday night, Green looked as if he didn’t have any burdens during the Game 5 victory.


He struck a pose after his first three-pointer. He chased down an offensive rebound, dribbled to the corner and drilled a three-pointer to give the Lakers a 25-point lead in the third quarter, his right shooting hand held high in the air again.

Green’s 14 points tied his high for the 2020 playoffs. He was four-for-six shooting from three-point range.

“I don’t think you need to find distractions, but I think it’s beneficial to stay focused on the task at hand,” Green said on a videoconference on Friday. “But I do think you need to find some escape sometimes when things aren’t going the way you want them to go. But it also helps you to stay on track and not deteriorate or get away from what the task, what the goal is, so if things aren’t going well you have no choice but to be locked in, figure it out … I guess that helps you to be less distracted. But it would be nice to have an escape for when you need a day off or a day away to clear your mind and clear your head.


“Sometimes you don’t have that luxury. I like to look at the positives. I’m a positive person. I think it’s a great thing that we don’t get distracted, we just lock in and play basketball. Don’t have to travel. Don’t have to worry about this, don’t have to worry about that. We just have everything right here at our front door. It makes it easier.”