The Suns second game of the season was much better on the eyes than the first one, but had ultimately the same result.
After losing by a franchise record 48 points on Wednesday night, the Suns lost on a last-second free throw miss that could have forced overtime.
T.J. Warren drew a foul with 1.2 seconds left and missed the free throws.
Suns lose 132-130.
Hey, at least it was a good game! The fans had fun anyway.
While the opponent was making a crazy amount of shots (Lakers shot 52.4/50/76), the Suns this time kept up for the most part for two plus quarters but then lost their cool and the lead.
And once the lead was gone, the Suns needed almost every last second to get back into the game.
But it just wasn’t enough.
Brook Lopez had 19 and 11. Brandon Ingram 24 and 2. Kyle Kuzma had 15 points off the bench.
Lonzo Ball had 29, 10 and 9, including a game-clinching trio of drives for scores at the rim when the Lakers needed it the most. The Suns put up an embarrassing defensive effort in crunch time.
But Corey Brewer was their MVP, hounding Devin Booker enough and drawing enough fouls to turn the game around in the third quarter. And the Lakers never looked back.
For the Suns, Devin Booker approached a triple double, but came up just short: 25, 11 and 8.
Booker was having a wonderful game - 13/7/7 - early in the third - before Brook Lopez committed a hard foul on a Booker drive. Booker went down hard on his back and rear end, not getting up for a while. He kept playing, but did not look the same from then on.
T.J. Warren was sublime - back to the old Tony Buckets - with 24 points.
Eric Bledsoe (28, 2, 2) had another up and down game, looking out of place until the fourth quarter when he upped the energy and brought the Suns and the arena to life.
The Suns pulled to within three points before the Lakers pushed it back to 7 and the Suns couldn’t get that close again.
Sorry fans. But at least it was interesting.
On a report that Bledsoe was questionable for tonight after spraining an ankle, Bledsoe tweeted back ‘Ha!’. So yeah, he’s in for this game.
Len is back too from an ankle sprain. The only guys out for the Suns are the usuals: Dudley, Knight, Reed and Sauce.
Out for the Lakers are rookie Josh Hart (bursitis) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (suspension). Also inactive are Ivica Zubac and Luol Deng, among those you thought might play.
Not a good start for the Suns. Missing shots (AGAIN) while allowing scores at the rim for the Lakers. Four possessions = 4 scores for Lakers. Four possessions = 1 score for Suns. Not a good ratio, Bob.
Corey Brewer (starting for the Lakers to shadow Booker) was doing Brewer things, draping all over Booker to deny him the ball. Brewer started hunting for steals too, and got one to finish his very own fast break. Still, Booker worked free when he got a switch to Ball defending him, or got a pick to switch a big on him.
Mike James was the first substitute for the Suns, coming in to replace an ineffective (again) Bledsoe. Marquese Chriss joined James after a timeout was called by the Lakers.
Marquese Chriss was a beast! He went for blocks, did not foul, and stayed active on both ends of the court, including throwing hard picks. We haven’t seen that from him for a while now. Nice to see.
Pretty quickly it became a track meet, with both teams trying to take shots as fast as they could. And both teams started making the shots too, or getting to the line. The Lakers had 10 free throws in the first 8 minutes.
With the Lakers shooting 59%, they took at 30-25 lead after nine minutes of play. Lots of fast breaks (bad Suns transition defense), drives to the rim (middling, inconsistent half-court interior defense) and free throws (hacking).
Eric Bledsoe started cold again, 1-4 from the field, 0-2 on free throws.
The Suns pulled to a 31-31 tie late in the first quarter and it felt like a win. That’s how this season feels so far.
But then the Lakers made a pair of threes (for seven points because of course) while the Suns had a pair of turnovers.
The Lakers THE LAKERS scored 40 on the Suns in one quarter. That’s 160-point pace.
For the season, the Suns have given up 164 points in just five quarters of play.
The Suns finally took the lead on a transition three by Booker (11 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds already) at 49-47.
Devin Booker was having a GREAT game (13 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds in 16 minutes) before getting walloped on a drive to the rim. Landed on his tailbone. He’s staying in the game though.
Dragan Bender has been calm, cool and collected, making all the right plays. In one sequence, he blocked Lonzo Ball on a drive and then made a transition three on the other end. His wild fist pump showed he knew he done good. Bender has 3 points, 3 rebounds and a block in seven minutes. He’s a plus-10 on the scoreboard.
I haven’t talked about T.J. Warren enough in this game BUT HE IS BACK! In the first half, Warren has 17 points (on only 9 shots), three assists (that’s a lot for Tony Buckets) and 4 rebounds. Dude looks smooth as silk.
Devin Booker finished the half with 17 points (on only 10 shots), 7 assists and 5 rebounds.
Suns up 73-70 at half. Hey at least it’s a fun game!
So far the Opening Night, Take Two plan is going well.
The Suns and Lakers started the second half like they ended the first - playing fast loose and inattentive on defense.
Corey Brewer tried hard to rattle Devin Booker, and while Booker played through it for a long time, he eventually lost his cool. Brewer got further and further into Booker, and started getting into Booker’s head.
Brewer got a deflection that almost became a steal. Then a steal and drive, on which Booker committed a flagrant foul. Then hounded Booker into a turnover, and another Lakers score.
Soon it was Lakers up 91-83 and the Suns had to take a time out.
Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram was having the game of his life, at least offensively. 24 points on 9-12 shooting. Not sure he’s ever had a game like that.
The Lakers lead was soon 10, with a 95-85 lead and still three minutes left in the third quarter. Holy smokes!
Booker leaves the game with 19 points, 8 assists and 9 rebounds. Brewer takes a break too, while Booker does. You know he’s coming back when Booker comes back.
Lonzo Ball had a nice turnaround in the lane and then a transition three. Mike James answered with a three of his own and a steal of Ball on the next possession while Ball was showboating a bit.
Lonzo ball has 21/7/7. We might see a pair of triple doubles with Booker and Ball.
James kept it close, and the Suns were down “only” 7 to the Lakers at the end of three quarters.
106-99 Lakers right now. AFTER ONLY THREE QUARTERS.
I don't know what to make of the Suns defense, because they just simply aren’t playing any - except for the occasional spectacular play (block, steal).
Maybe it’s just that both teams are throwing such great picks and screens to get guys open. Yeah, we’ll go with that.
The Lakers stayed ahead, getting their lead up to 12 with 9:24 left before Bledsoe finally got a score on an and-one. It’s amazing how Bledsoe has become Brandon Knight all of a sudden.
But then he wasn’t.
All of a sudden, Eric Bledsoe became Eric Bledsoe again with speed and strength and the Suns got the lead down to 4.
But the tale of the Suns this season, I believe, will be that the other team has an unusual amount of confidence while the Suns tend to lose theirs.
Quickly, the Laker lead was back to 11 with scores by Jordan Clarkson and a pair by Brook Lopez. One of them a leaner that would make a playground kid proud.
Unfortunately, the Suns started missing their threes while the Lakers didn’t.
See the rest at the top of the article.