Finally, the Suns offense — 2nd best in the league in the last three months — shifted into high gear and they BLEW OUT the undermanned Lakers.
They rode a 24-1 run to a big lead that eventually ended in a 66-36 halftime lead. They nearly doubled up the Lakers in that half!
The lead ballooned to nearly 40 in the third quarter, and by the 4th it was each team’s deep bench trying to entertain the biggest crowd they’ve seen in over a year.
Devin Booker had 30 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in three quarters. Cameron Payne was a sparkplug off the bench for 14 quick points in the first quarter, and finished with 16. Cameron Johnson had 11 points and Mikal Bridges had an all-around excellent game: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
The Suns didn’t even need big games from Deandre Ayton or Chris Paul.
Suns win, 115-85.
The Suns now have a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series, needing one win in the next two games to advance to round two.
The Lakers were without Anthony Davis (groin), while the Suns lost Chris Paul (shoulder) again in the third quarter. Both players are day-to-day, heading to Game Six on Thursday in LA.
How it happened
If you missed the game, hopefully this recap will help you get the feel for how it unfolded.
On offense, LeBron James opened the game aggressive, putting up 5 of the Lakers first 8 shots and helping them take an 8-3 lead. But then the Suns began to erupt behind Devin Booker’s own aggressiveness.
On defense, the Lakers came out swinging — literally fouling any open Suns drive to the basket — but the Suns just kept coming at them. Just kept playing their game, and the CROWD LOVED IT.
Holy crap this crowd energy was FIRE.
When Cameron Payne came in and made a quick three to put the Suns up 19-10 the building almost exploded. I can’t tell you guys how much I have missed this feeling. I just can’t express it. That’s a 18-2 Suns run right there.
Devin Booker had 13 points and Cam Payne had 10, as the Suns took a 29-19 lead with just over a minute left in the quarter. Then Booker tacked on five more to finish the quarter with 18! That’s more than he had for the whole Game 4 in LA (17).
The Suns led 34-26 after one quarter. This is important to the Suns egalitarian strategy — Ayton and Paul combined for only 1 point in that quarter, yet the Suns scored 34.
The second quarter was even better than the first, and the building absolutely EXPLODED when Chris Paul hit his first three pointer since being injured, putting the Suns up 48-27 on the defending champs, forcing a Frank Vogel timeout.
The lead got to 55-27 and the Lakers just had no answer, even with LeBron staying on the court the whole time.
When the Suns gang-grabbed another rebound on a Lakers miss, up 58-32, LeBron just stopped playing and watched the Suns run a half-court set and get a dunk from Torrey Craig. Lakers timeout.
The Suns took a, shall we say, healthy 30 point lead into halftime, up 66-36. Devin Booker leads the Suns with 22 points. Cam Payne has that 14 off the bench. Seven Suns have scored. Eight Suns have at least 1 assist. That’s called SUNS OFFENSE IS BACK.
The Suns came out firing, and the Lakers came out hacking in all ways. They were in the penalty on fouls before the 6-minute mark, and the Suns lead pulled out to 33+ points.
But then CP had another scare. He went down hard, and walked off with his arm completely limp after a loose ball foul (nothing intentional). CP’s arm is just very tender these days.
He came back in to take his free throws, at least, and made them but then left for the locker room. Suns up 36.
LeBron looked energized with CP out, and the Lakers tried to go on a run, cutting the Suns lead to 30 as the Suns missed a few shots trying to regain their edge.
Suns lead 92-63 after three quarters, despite LeBron James scoring 8 in the final couple of minutes after Paul left. Devin Booker had 30/7/5. Mikal Bridges is up to 13 points with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a block.
At that point, LeBron was done.
Oh by the way, CP came back out to the court but did not enter the game. At least he didn’t have a wrap or anything.
The fourth quarter was for the benches to have a little fun. Frank almost tried to finish an alley-oop (he didn’t) and then had a drive to the basket for an and-one. E’Twaun and Langston got some run along with Frank and the Cams. A minute later Jevon Carter got out there too. Langston was so cold from not playing a couple months he missed a pair of wiiiide open threes.
About this time, with 6:51 left in a 32-point lead, a few hundred Suns fans resumed a time-honored tradition of leaving early to beat the traffic and listen to the end of the game on the radio.
Rookie Jalen Smith drained a corner three with 2 minutes left and the crowd erupted one more time. Wait, when Dario drained a fallaway three, THAT was the last big cheer. They know their basketball team!