Phoenix continued a nice, bounce-back weekend on Sunday with a victory over the Lakers, 111-94.
The Lakers showed how thin their starting lineup was to start the game, as they missed six of their first seven shots. On the other hand, Devin Booker started hot — as he’s been doing constantly of late — with four early shot attempts for six points.
Los Angeles called an early timeout down, 10-2.
An early subplot was the mistiming between Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton. The two lost the ball on a pair of early pick-and-rolls, with one turnover counting on Paul. Fortunately the Lakers were so discombobulated that it didn’t matter, but it’s something to bear in mind.
As the first period came to a close, the Suns used ball movement to maintain their lead, though their defense waned as they allowed Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker to get to the rim a few times. We know the recipe by now the when the Suns’ offense is humming: Ball movement creates open threes and efficient scoring.
In his first game back from the health and safety protocol since March 2, Cameron Johnson took advantage, making a three that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The Suns went into the first break up, 31-26.
The second quarter stayed similarly stale until Booker checked in at the 5:59 mark. The Suns quickly went on a 12-3 run with Booker running the show, and outscored LA 18-5 down the stretch of the half.
The second quarter also saw Torrey Craig debut, and make his first basket as a Sun.
Torrey Craig gets his first bucket! pic.twitter.com/CuErFvXuZ3— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) March 22, 2021
Phoenix took a double-digit lead into the locker room at halftime.
After an up and down first half, Ayton had a very strong third quarter, scoring eight points and getting to the line five times. It’s like he remembered the Lakers’ front line tonight was Markieff Morris and Montrezl Harrell. Just in the nick of time.
After he fed Ayton for an alley-oop for two of those eight points, Paul became the sixth player in NBA history to dish 10,000 assists. What a remarkable career — and it’s not over yet.
Ayton continued his strong play in the fourth, protecting the rim effectively on defense and scoring efficiently. It was his most points in a game in two months.
You can tell Ayton is feeling it when he actually starts to put the ball on the ground and is playing off of instincts more than being so mechanical in his decision-making. He was all feel in the second half.
DA has been solid tonight on both ends. pic.twitter.com/6xKuFjqU98— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) March 22, 2021
The Lakers finally called a timeout down 16 with 1:47 to go after a Paul jumper.
It was Frank Vogel’s white flag. LeBron James had just gone from the bench to the locker room, and at that point the likes of Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo took the court for LA. Game over.