After a blistering Game 5 in which the Phoenix Suns rolled the Lakers up and smoked them to the tune of a 30-point blow out, the series shifted to the Staples Center. With the series on the line for Los Angeles, the Suns answered the call and put the Lakers away in their home arena, winning the game 113-100 and the series 4-2. The season is over for the defending champs. The fun is just beginning for the Phoenix Suns.
How about them Phoenix Suns, eh? This series isn’t about what the Lakers did wrong. It’s about what the Suns did right. Their defense. Their adjustments. Their togetherness. Their will to win. We have a team ladies and gentleman.
Devin Booker led all scorers with a season high 47 points, adding 11 rebounds to his impressive stat line. In the same, he made a career-high 8 three pointers.
The first key bit of news came when the availability of Anthony Davis was made official prior to tip-off. Shams, who learned this information from Arizona Sports 98.7’s John Gambadoro I assume, let us know that he would give it a go.
Official: Anthony Davis is playing tonight vs. Suns in Game 6. https://t.co/Lth62oEKjM— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 4, 2021
The question would be how effective Davis would be as he returned from a groin injury sustained in the second quarter of Game 3. Early signs pointed to a less-than-mobile AD. He camped at the top of the key on offense, playing the part of passer rather than attacker. It was clear that he was seeing how the injured groin was responding.
Phoenix was attacking the hampered Davis, forcing him the move laterally. As the Lakers rotated to assist their star, Crowder was alone on the perimeter. The Suns jumped out to an early 14-5 lead behind 3-for-3 from Jae Crowder from beyond the arc and 5 quick Booker points.
With 6:35 left in the first quarter, Anthony Davis clutched his left groin and screamed to his teammates to please foul. He limped to the locker room. Shortly thereafter, Chris Paul appeared to reaggravate his right shoulder injury while guarding LeBron. It was a rough night for those wearing jersey #3.
For the second consecutive game, the first quarter belonged to Devin Armani Booker. He scored 16 of the Suns first 27 points, reaching that point total while the Lakers still had 10 points on the scoreboard. 6-for-7 from the field, 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. A man once referenced as an “empty stats” player showed that he was ready for the bright lights.
He was instantly tending on Twitter.
He wasn’t done. Booker hit two more as he finished the first quarter with 22 points, 6-for-6 from deep — tying his career high in three’s made in a game — as the Suns collectively hit 10 deep balls.
After one quarter, the Phoenix Suns led the Lakers by 22, 36-14.
33 of the Suns first 45 points came via the three-ball as the built their lead to 29 in the second quarter. The hustle of the Phoenix Suns continued as they out rebounded the Lakers 23-16. The 50/50 balls seemingly fell into the Suns hands. They were prepared. They wanted it.
The Lakers put on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 24 behind a pair of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three’s in the middle of Q2. Their aggressiveness on both ends increased, led by the imposing efforts of LeBron James.
A series that has been physical in nature continues to be so with 30.7 seconds left in the half. KCP and Crowder both received technical fouls following the hard foul of Torrey Craig.
Caldwell-Pope received a flagrant foul for his windup and follow through of the foul on Craig. Torrey one of his free-throws.
The first half onslaught of Devin Booker was a thing of beauty. As Espo call’s it, he was in “Armani Mode”. The kid who grew up idolizing Kobe was having himself a half in the house that Bryant built. Booker scored 33 points on 11-16 shooting (7-8 from three) and led his team to a 21-point lead in a put away game on the road.
The Suns shot 21-139 (53.8%) from the field and 12-20 (60%) from three. Conversely, the Lakers shot 15-42 (35.7%) from the field and 5-16 (31.3%) from deep. Turnovers were even at 5 a piece. The Lakers scored 20 of their 41 in the paint.
Suns 62, Lakers 41 at the half.
Prior the start of the second half, the Lakers were informed that Anthony Davis would be out for the remainder of the game. Furthermore, Alex Caruso was inured as well. It would be an uphill battle for Los Angeles.
The Lakers say Alex Caruso is questionable to return to this game with a left ankle strain.— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) June 4, 2021
The Lakers came out attacking the rim, looking for easy points in the interior. A team that has struggled with their jump shooting and three-point shooting throughout the series knew that was the best way to try to overcome the deficit.
Defensively the Lakers were doubling Booker at half court. Why wouldn’t you at this point? Booker proved he was worthy of the Dame Lillard/Steph Curry treatment following his frst-half performance.
The Suns responded with a dose of Deandre Ayton.
Los Angeles kept punching in the third. LeBron had a vintage coast-to-coast layup. Wesley Matthews hit a deep three. Their hands were active. Their defense was smothering. The effort of a dying NBA Champion would be no easy task to overcome and, as President Thomas J. Whitmore famously said in the movie Independence Day, “they [would] not go quietly into the night.”
At the 4:42 mark in the 3rd, the Lakers cut the lead to 13 following a LeBron layup. They were aided by the poor ball security of the Suns, who turned the ball over 4 times in the quarter.
Cameron Payne calmed the Suns by attacking the bucket and getting to the line. The rhythm of the Lakers were disrupted by the Suns willingness to abandon the outside shot and go to the rim. Their response? Get physical.
Another hard foul, this one from Markieff Morris on Cam Johnson. He looks a little dazed after that one— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) June 4, 2021
Second flagrant foul of the game on the Lakers. Shortly thereafter Talen Horton-Tucker was called for technical foul for bumping Cam Johnson in transition. The Lake Show continued to scrap and pester, harass and annoy. “We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive...”
Payne missed numerous layups, which the Laker faithful — who I am sure are not members of the CP15 Fan Club — gleefully cheered for. Los Angeles outscored the Suns 35-27 in the third. Suns 89, Lakers 76.
At the 8-minute mark, following another Phoenix turnover, the Lakers got it down to 10. Chris Paul responded with a clutch jumper, an assist to a Mikal three, and a 17-foot pull up jump shot. 7-0 Suns run.
Like we’ve seen all season long. When the chips are on the table, when the Suns need some points, the value of Chris Paul comes to fruition. His calming presence. His leadership. His clutchness.
That Paul jumper feels like the dagger!— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) June 4, 2021
The three by Mikal Bridges, the 16th for Phoenix, set the franchise record for three-pointers made in a playoff game. Yes, more than 7SOL.
It was a 13-point lead with 5 minutes remaining and that was cut to 11 following a savage THT dunk but the momentum was cut short by a Jae Crowder three, his 5th of the game. Jae was ejected with his second technical foul with 30.7 seconds.
The Suns ultimately closed the door on the game, the series, and the Lakers season. LeBron is now 14-1 in the first round. And 0-1 against the Suns in the playoffs.
Phoenix will now host the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals.
LETS GO SUNS!