The short-handed LA Lakers had a lot of fight in them in the first half against the Suns, and at one point in the first quarter they even held a 10-point lead in the first quarter and later retook a 38-30 lead in the second quarter after the Phoenix Suns had cut it to 29-28. LeBron James was instrumental in the first half with 19 points and 3 assists, while Russell Westbrook had 10 points, 6 rebound and 4 assists.
However, the Suns slowly wore the Lakers down, and by halftime had held a 54-52 lead. DeAndre Ayton and JaVale McGee were important pieces for Phoenix in the first half, taking advantage of the Lakers’ lack of size and combining for 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The Suns opened the third quarter with a 13-2 run that blew the lead open to 67-54, riding the hot hand of Devin Booker who scored nine points during that stretch. The Lakers put on another small run of their own to cut the deficit down to 69-64.
The Lakers couldn’t keep up the run though, and the Suns eventually ended their lead back to 85-73 heading into the fourth quarter, and never looked back. The game ended in a 108-90 win for the Suns.
While the Lakers put up a commendable effort in portions of the game, this contest against the team with the league’s best record further showed how reliant they are on Anthony Davis’ health, which has been spotty at best.
James turned back the clock with a vintage performance, serving as the Lakers’ primary scorer with 34 points and 7 rebounds. He shot an efficient 13 of 19 from the field and 2 of 5 from deep while only turning the ball over twice. Westbrook finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals along with 7 turnovers.
For all his efforts, James just couldn’t single-handedly carry the Lakers to victory against such a talented opponent. His plus/minus of 0 was in stark contrast to the rest of his teammates that played 15 minutes or more. Here’s what that looked like, and their contribution on offense:
- Carmelo Anthony (+3) – 2 of 7 from the field, ejected in the third quarter
- Isaiah Thomas (-1) – 1 of 11 from the field
- Trevor Ariza (-5) – 4 of 4 from the field
- Russell Westbrook (-6) – 10 of 20 from the field
- Wayne Ellington (-17) – 1 of 4 from the field
- Talen Horton Tucker (-18) – 1 of 13 from the field
- DeAndre Jordan (-26) – 0 of 1 from the field
- Rajon Rondo (-26) – 0 of 2 from the field
As presently constructed, the Lakers are going to have trouble making a run at the NBA finals. Their lack of size without a healthy AD will constantly be abused by more well-balanced teams, as evidenced by Ayton and McGee finishing the game with a combined 29 points and 21 rebounds.
The Suns deserve a ton of credit for the win too, as they continue to spread the wealth. Seven of the nine players that took to the floor today scored in double digits, led by Booker’s 24 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists with 5 turnovers. Chris Paul finished the game with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 9 assists with 2 turnovers.
Phoenix assisted on 29 of 41 made baskets, showing their unselfishness and focus on playing winning basketball.