Nah, just kidding. This is preseason, and the game played out like it.
The Suns, minus Devin Booker, played under control and with a Chris Paul rhythm that reminds us, oh yeah, the Suns are a very good, maybe great team. And deep. Quite the deep rotation. But the energy from the team and the crowd was muted, as you’d expect from a 3pm preseason crowd.
The Lakers, minus LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, looked like the worst of Anthony Davis’ Pelicans teams. He was a man on an island around so-so players who weren’t on the same page. The Lakers had so much turnover, AD had literally never played much, or at all, with any of the guys on the court around him.
So, to recap, the Suns looked like the best of the West, if a little muted, while the Lakers looked like they were not at all ready to play a regular season game.
Suns got up by 12 points in the first quarter, 20 in the second quarter, almost 30 in the third quarter, and basically just made the game a workout the rest of the way.
For what it’s worth, looks like the Suns played a regular rotation — minus Booker — for three quarters and Jalen Smith and Abdel Nader got minutes over Elfrid Payton and Frank Kaminsky. This was without Booker. In the regular season, I doubt any of those guys plays real minutes if everyone’s healthy.
After going up 30, the Suns finished with the game with Chasson Randle, Chandler Hutchison, Elfrid Payton, Frank Kaminsky and Jalen Smith. They got outscored badly as a group, hence the closer final score.
Suns up 102-74 after three quarters. Final score: 117-105.
Jalen Smith looked better in this game than Summer League, to me, especially in his first half stint with regular rotation players. He got minutes next to JaVale McGee and played basically the cleanup role a la Ced Ceballos from back in the day. He grabbed rebounds, put-backs and dump offs to tally 4 points and 5 rebounds in 6 first half minutes. Once again, though, he got a bit lost in a ragtag fourth quarter with all the deep bench guys trying to prove themselves.
Cameron Payne is unleashing his floater game, as he and I discussed at Media Day, He knows the scouting has him taking all his shots at either the rim or from range so that’s how they defended him. Now, he’s going back to his midrange floater game for a changeup to keep them guessing. I liked it.
- Deandre Ayton — 14 points (6-12 shooting), 11 rebounds, 1 block in 22 minutes (+16) playing mostly matched up with Anthony Davis
- Mikal Bridges — 15 points (7-18 shooting), 6 rebounds, 1 block in 25 minutes (+23)
- Chris Paul — 8 points, 11 assists, 1 steal in 22 minutes (+11)
- Anthony Davis — 14 points (5-14 shooting), 8 rebounds, 2 blocks in 25 minutes (-10) — most of AD’s actual scores were against players other than Ayton, after switches
- Malik Monk — 18 points