The Lakers came in riding an 8-game losing streak while the Suns had won 3 of their last 4, and in the last meeting between the teams the Suns won by 36 points.
So the Suns won easily right?
The Lakers shot the ball very well, and used a lot of energy in the third quarter to pull away from the Suns, eventually taking a 14-point lead early in the 4th. Then it was 18 halfway through.
The only problem was the huge contingent of Kobe-jersey-wearing Laker fans getting a chance to cheer wildly on every good Lakers play.
Other than that, this is what happens when two of the worst and youngest teams in the league face off - one team plays well, while the other doesn’t.
The Suns had a furious late charge, cutting a 21-point Laker lead at 4:53 to 9 with just under 2 minutes to go, and then to 7 with 40 seconds left.
D’Angelo Russell iced the Lakers win with a three-pointer with 32.5 seconds to go, putting the Lakers back up 10.
Good games by Suns:
- Big Sauce with his 5th straight double-double - first time ever for a Suns player off the bench: 16/10
- T.J. Warren with his second straight double-double - first time in his career: 17/13/3/3
- Devin Booker with 23 points, 3 assists and 6 rebounds
- Marquese Chriss had 19 points and 6 rebounds
The Lakers started Tarik Black at center against the Suns Alex Len, Brandon Ingram against T.J. Warren, Julius Randle against Marquese Chriss, Nick Young against Devin Booker and D’Angelo Russell against Eric Bledsoe.
Both teams started the game looking a bit out of rhythm, but the Suns were able to get three early steals to ignite some easy buckets.
The Suns made 11 of their first 15 shots - almost none of them contested either in half court or full court. Their 23-15 lead included 11 fast break points among 16 points in the paint.
The only thing keeping the Lakers in the game was making 4 of their first 5 three-pointers, including the one that brought them back to 23-18 after a timeout.
T.J. Warren was the Suns most consistent scorer in the first quarter, with 9 points on 4/7 shooting.
After a good start, jumping to a 28-20 lead, the Suns went cold and allowed the Lakers to slowly chip away at the lead the rest of the quarter. They went three minutes without scoring, stopped only by Tyler Ulis getting to the line followed by Marquese Chriss.
After one, the Suns led only 33-32.
The Lakers made 6 of 10 threes, on a Rockets’ pace of 40 threes. Russell had 10 points, while Ingram had 6 and Clarkson had 5.
Marquese Chriss with 8/2 while T.J. Warren had 9/3.
In the second quarter, the Suns just couldn’t get anything going with the second unit, and the Lakers eventually started coming to life.
Alan Williams, Marquese Chriss and Alex Len all collected 3 fouls before the 5-minute mark of the second quarter, while Laker rookie Ivica Zubac and all the other Lakers were allowed to drive hard to the rim.
Zubac had 10 points and 2 rebounds in his first 11 minutes (career high is 17 for a game).
At one point, the Lakers got up 53-45 on a Russell three before Devin Booker started getting hot (making 4 of 5 shots) and helped the Suns pull back to 57-55 with 2:22 left.
The Suns ran off a 14-2 run (11 Booker points) to pull ahead 61-57.
Suns up 63-61 at halftime.
Booker with 17 points at half, while Bledsoe had 9 points, 2 assists and 6 rebounds. T.J. Warren had 8 rebounds at halftime, along with his 9 points.
The Suns had 26 fast break points in the first half, after 53 on Tuesday night was the most in 8 years in the NBA.
The second half began slow for the Suns, fast for the Lakers. After only getting 6 second-chance points in the first half, the Lakers matched that in the opening minutes of the third quarter to take a 69-65 lead.
The Suns found themselves down 72-71 pretty quickly, as Russell ran his consecutive threes up to 5/5 and Brandon Ingram laid a poster dunk on Alex Len. The Suns just couldn’t/didn’t do anything right.
The Lakers played well and hard, while the Suns just couldn’t make a shot and really could not keep up with the Lakers’ energy.
The good things: T.J. Warren got his second consecutive double-double while Alan Williams approached one of his own.
Suns end the third quarter down 90-81.
The fourth started with Zubac and Nance making jumpers, while 6’4” Jordan Clarkson used his size against 5’9” Tyler Ulis to create space on his jumper. Soon it was a 14-point lead. Got to give credit to the Lakers’ energy.
In the end, the Lakers won going away.
Just not the Suns night.