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Final Score (Preseason): Suns drop game to Lakers, 114-113

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The Phoenix Suns closed out the preseason slate with a home game on their new court.

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns came out strong once again versus the Lakers, with leads of 22-7 and 38-19 in the first quarter, and held a 13-point lead at halftime. Devin Booker had 20 points at halftime, and the Suns made nearly 60% of their shots for a 69-56 lead.

But then LeBron James and Anthony Davis played balls out in the third quarter (19 points in the third). Davis made 4/5 threes, and the Lakers overall drove their way back into the game with a 35-23 surge on the back of 6/7 threes in the quarter overall. Booker picked up his 4th foul with four minutes to go in the quarter and the Suns struggled to score to close it out.

Chris Paul and Dario Saric, two crucial playmakers in their own ways, missed the game, leaving Devin Booker as the primary playmaker most of the game. He did very well, but couldn’t play the whole time could he?

Booker picked up that 5th foul early in the 4th before the Suns went down 100-95 on a Taylor Horton-Tucker three (their 17th of the game on 55% shooting from range).

The Lakers just couldn’t miss in the 4th either, and the Suns had few answers on either end. Horton-Tucker made some big shots despite great effort on defense from Jevon Carter. He’s going to be a problem this year. Physically reminds me a lot of Shannon Brown but he’s a lot more aggressive and physical than Brown ever was.

In true preseason fashion, Lakers and Suns cleared their benches with three minutes left in a three point game, 106-103 Lakers. At that point, it didn’t even matter who won the game.

But who am I kidding? Of course it always matters who wins. First Langston Galloway makes a three, then Ty-Shon Alexander makes one and the Suns might win this game after all!

The Suns had the ball, down one, with Carter-Galloway-Smith-Alexander-Motley lineup and three chances to score but couldn’t do it.

Final score, Lakers 114, Suns 113.

Don’t worry about the Suns 0-4 preseason Suns fans. This team is good.

The regular season starts next week versus Dallas at home.

The arena

This is my first time seeing the arena and I’ve got to tell you it feels like a whole new building once you’re inside. I’ve been coming here for nearly thirty years and it just doesn’t look the same.

Partly it’s the covered seats, I suppose, but mostly it’s the whole new feel. New court, new colors (all black outside the floor area). Huge new big screen. Theater lighting. Love it!

Lineups

Welp, too bad for anyone wishing for another glimpse of CP3 running the offense. He’s sitting out with ankle soreness.

Jevon Carter steps in at starting point guard, but that means it’s really Devin Booker running the team eh? Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder and Deandre Ayton round out the lineup.

For the Lakers, it’s LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Dennis Schroder not listed as injured (no one is), so I guess he’s coming off the bench along with Wesley Matthews in this one.

Tip Off

The Suns started hot, with a pair of threes from Booker and Bridges and a steal/score from Carter.

Devin Booker is playing point guard with Carter spotting up on the wing. Carter brings the ball up then passes off to Carter quickly.

I love that the video board plays the game!

The Suns got up 14-3 before LA called a timeout. The Suns were just ON POINT while the Lakers were still stuck in preseason mode.

Suns got up 20-7 again, just like the other night against LA’s starters.

Just as the fun got going, Mikal Bridges went down weirdly on a slashing layup, rolled over his head/neck area and left for precautionary reasons. Hope he’s okay, but I doubt they take any chances on bringing him back in.

Suns got up 32-16 before most of the Suns starters had given way to the bench. But at least this time the Cams were in there. Cameron Johnson and Cam Payne stepped in with Langston Galloway, Damian Jones and Jalen Smith.

Mikal came jogging back out a second later to the cheers of his teammates.

Nice having the Cams back! Suns ran it up to 39-18, forcing the Lakers to call another timeout. Now THIS looks like the Bubble Suns again to me. The energy, the shotmaking, the focus. Yes, me like.

Mikal checked back in right before the end of the quarter. Dude is an Iron Man.

Suns up 39-21 at the end of one. Got Cam a J at the end of the quarter off like three screens but it didn’t go down. Devin Booker had 15 points on 5-6 shooting. Jevon was effective with 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Deandre Ayton was 3-3 for 6 points, plus 3 rebounds and a block.

Suns come back out in the second with two regular starters — Jae and Mikal — with Carter, Galloway and Damian Jones. Galloway on fire again for his second three. Let’s just say they didn’t have much chemistry. It got a bit sloppy after that on offense until Ayton came back in to get the Laker D’s attention a bit.

Taylor Horton-Tucker is good, but I just gotta say he looks a lot like Shannon Brown out there. Maybe it’s just a build. But I’m getting flashbacks... that is, until he drives into Ayton’s gut and finishes a strong layup and now that Shannon Brown image is a distant memory.

Suns kept their 16+ point lead throughout the second quarter, unlike a couple nights ago when they struggled with bench play. Cam Payne and Jevon Carter were fun to watch on both ends, even when the Lakers went big again to try to counter the Suns speed and energy.

But then, trying to play the Lakers starting lineup with Damian Jones and Johnathan Motley as your big men might have been a bit too bold. But that’s what happens when your depth is not deep. Ayton can’t play the whole game, and Dario Saric is still out with a quad injury. Even CamJ is on short minutes with a pulled calf. Jalen Smith has not looked ready for NBA minutes yet.

LeBron and AD decided that Jones/Motley was NOT going to beat them, and they took turns going at the rim hard. Yet still the Suns lead was 62-46 with 3:03 left in the half. That’s because Devin Armani Booker is up to 20 points on 7 field goals and the Suns are shooting 60% from the field at nearly halftime.

Did I say yet that the court and video board are gorgeous? You gotta know I’ve been coming to this arena for almost 30 years, made it to 35+ games each of the last 10. I’ve SUFFERED with that awful old board. I deserve to enjoy this lol.

Cam Johnson wasn’t shooting well from deep (0-4 in the half) but he’s always doing good things on the court otherwise. Be nice to see that shot come back.

The Lakers cut the lead to 69-56 at the half as Cam Payne missed the final shot at the buzzer. Still the Suns finished the half shooting 58.7% from the field and looking every bit like that scrappy team in the Bubble.

Second half

The Suns opened the second half with a three, but decidedly less energy and saw the lead drop to 9 despite a pair of Javon Carter threes. LeBron and AD made a number of threes of their own, and the Suns just looked sluggish compared to 20 minutes earlier. Lead down to 80-71.

To the Lakers credit, they really upped their very good defensive effort and energy overall, reminding us they aren’t too shabby themselves. Lakers definitely flexing their muscle at this point.

The Suns lead got down to 6 on the Lakers’ 5th three of the quarter before Monty brought in the Cams. Booker collected his fourth foul, though, and the Lakers answered with their 6th three of the quarter to cut the Suns lead to four.

Now it’s a real game. Anthony Davis continued his explosion, making 4 threes in the third quarter alone, 6-7 for the game overall, and the Suns lead was down to 92-91 after three quarters. Lakers have made 15 of 26 threes overall so far. LBJ and AD are 9-11 together.

I can’t say enough how much struggle the Motley/Damian Jones/Jalen Smith backup big man rotation has been this preseason. Just ugly results.