The Lakers and Suns game was a good litmus test for both teams, as they were playoff foes but both missed key players at one point or other during the first round. Chris Paul hurt his shoulder to start with and then Anthony Davis then hurt his groin toward the end of the series.
This time around, the Suns were back with their full core and the Lakers were around with a re-tooled roster, plus a healthy Davis and LeBron James. The first quarter was a hard-fought affair, but the Suns wreaked havoc in the second and third quarters, at one point leading by 32 points. They outscored the Lakers 71 – 41 in that span.
The Suns’ triple-threat for tonight were Chris Paul (23 points, 5 rebounds, 14 assists, 50 FG%), Devin Booker (22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 47.4 FG%) and Mikal Bridges (21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 72.7 FG%). Jae Crowder also chipped in 13 points. DeAndre Ayton was the only starter who didn’t score in double figures, but he had 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block to go with that performance.
DeAndre Ayton is an unselfish player, play second quarter saw him get great position in the block, but instead of trying to get a foul or drive, sees, an open man on the corner, makes the extra pass, gets the assist. He did it again in the third quarter. After getting blocked by Anthony Davis on a drive, he recovered the ball, then found another open man for the three instead of forcing another attempt.
Davis had 22 points and 14 rebounds, while LeBron James had 25 point and 5 assists, while Russell Westbrook almost had a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. Carmelo Anthony chipped in 16 off the bench.
Although the Lakers put up a good fight in the fourth quarter, where they outscored the Suns 38-21, it ended up just being a case of too little, too late, and underscored some of the problems that the Lakers might be looking at with the roster they’ve constructed. As good as Westbrook’s stats were, his play was all over the place. He had a few offensive fouls, and even worse, he had a lot of trouble converting on his patented drives – especially in the fourth quarter. He did get the steal and the drive to make it a 110-100 game with 1:18 left in the game, but that was too late in the game already.
An even bigger concern for the Lakers might be their chemistry, as Dwight Howard almost got into a fight with Davis on the bench.
Tempers were certainly high for the Lakers, and Rajon Rondo also got into an altercation with a fan on the sidelines. That fan was ejected from the game after he slapped Rondo’s hand away as the point guard made a gun gesture at his head. Yes, the fan was in the wrong for touching the player, but what Rondo did wasn’t right either, even if they were having some sort of back and forth. I wouldn’t be surprised of Rondo was also sanctioned for his actions.
Even with the questions about roster fit, the potential personal conflicts within the Lakers, with just two games played in the season, are worth keeping a close eye on as the season progresses.
NOTES FROM OTHER GAMES:
LaVar Ball’s sons go 2-0 to start the season
Lonzo Ball came back to haunt the Pelicans with a 17 points, 10 rebound and 10 assist triple-double in his return since getting traded, and the Bulls took down the 128-112 victory led by Zach Lavine’s 32 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. The two guys they traded Ball for, Garrett Temple and Tomas Satoransky, combined for 3 points, a rebound, no assists, and a steal. The Bulls are now 2-0 to start the season.
LaVar Ball’s going to be happy, because LaMelo Ball also started his season 2-0 with a 123-112 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. LaMelo had an efficient game with 17 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists along with 5 steals. Miles Bridges led the Hornets with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Colin Sexton had a good game for the Cavs with 33 points on 13 of 21 shooting.
Nikola Jokic continues to make the people who have him on their fantasy team happy
I had Nikola Jokic in my fantasy team last year, and he almost carried me to a win. He continued his MVP form today while leading the Denver Nuggets to a 102-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. He had another ridiculous line of 32 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and a block while shooting 14 of 19 from the field including both of his treys.
I’m still salty that I couldn’t get him again this year.
The Celtics got their asses handed to them by the Toronto Raptors
The Boston Celtics followed their classic opening day double OT loss by getting the shit kicked out of them by the Toronto Raptors 115-83. Jaylen Brown shot terrible, scoring 9 points of 13 shots while Jayson Tatum finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. The only other Celtic to score in double figures was Josh Richardson with 12. Scottie Barnes, who Toronto drafted with the fourth pick, led the Raptors with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 2 assists.
The Pacers can’t catch a break
The Indiana Pacers lost another close game, this time dropping a 135-134 OT contest against the the Washington Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie had 34 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists then Kyle Kuzma also had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 2 assists. The Wizards overcame a monster night from Myles Turner, who had 40 points and 10 rebounds, and another big night from Domantas Sabonis who had 28 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
Davion Mitchell is playing hellacious defense
The Sacramento Kings led at times against the Utah Jazz, but they were undone by bad offensive execution in the fourth quarter. What they’ll be happy with, though, is a second-straight game where Davion Mitchell lived up to his reputation as an unflappable wing defender. Mitchell finished with four steals and was on Donovan Mitchell’s ass all night, making him earn his 27 points.
A couple more blowouts happened today
Christian Wood was balling for the Houston Rockets today, leading them to a 124-91 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder with 29 points and 14 rebounds on 12 of 18 shooting. Kevin Porter Jr. nearly had a double-double with 20 points, 3 rebounds and 9 assist and shot for 8 of 17.
Julius Randle continued playing strong for the New York Knicks as they took an easy 121-96 win against the Orlando Magic. He had 21 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks. Evan Fournier wasn’t as crazy as the first game but still chipped in 18 points. No one on the Magic scored 20 points, with Franz Wagner leading them with 16 points.