Of course, Suns vs. Lakers has bad blood with it anyway, and Patrick Beverley being on that team now makes is even worse.
True to form, the first thing Beverley hit all game (he was 0-2 from the field) was Deandre Ayton in the back while his team was down double digits in the fourth quarter, a flagrant foul that got him ejected. Sound familiar?
“Just nonsense,” Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker said afterward of Beverley’s act. “I’d have a lot more respect if you just push him in the chest.”
The Phoenix Suns used the three-point shot (16 makes) to take and keep the lead in this one, a game otherwise won physically by the Lakers and, specifically, Anthony Davis. Davis had a really good game — 37 points, 21 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 blocks. He and the Lakers attacked the paint all game long, ending up with +26 on points from free throws.
The Suns held on to win, 115-105. They are 11-6 on the season now.
Mikal Bridges led the Suns with 25 points, adding 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Deandre Ayton fueled the angry fire of Suns fans all game long but finished with 14 points (10 in the second half) and 15 rebounds. Devin Booker also had a team-leading 25 points with 5 assists before fouling out with under a minute left.
“We did enough to get the win,” head coach Monty Williams said after most of the postgame questions. Out-free-throwed by 30? Lakers committed only 12 fouls to the Suns 22 in a very physical game? Davis with 37? And so on. Suffice to say, the Suns were not playing their best basketball on this night (“so many distractions, with Thanksgiving coming”) but they did enough to get the win.
That free throw discrepancy — 35 to 5 — looks a lot like that one-point Miami loss just a few games ago.
“Can’t say I haven’t seen that before,” Booker said. “I know we’re a jump shooting team, but...”
How it went
Both teams came out a little off, but at the least the Suns were getting open shots. They just kept missing them (0-3 to start the game) until a feed to Ayton for a dunk and then a three from Mikal Bridges gave the Suns the lead.
The bad shooting just kept coming, with the Suns and Lakers both starting the game 2-9 from the field.
The problem for both teams is settling for jump shots. Just too many jumpers, too few shots at the rim. Booker and Payne are a combined 0-7 from the field, and the Suns were down 7-5 more than four minutes into the game.
With the Suns missing shots, they began to press on both ends and allowed the Lakers to take some physical control of the game. At least as far as Pat Bev and Russ West were concerned. They tried to bully the Suns and it worked for a possession or two, but then the Suns got some blocks and runouts to get the lead.
Devin Booker started abusing Austin Reaves with drives and fakes and the Suns had a 22-17 lead before the benches started coming in for both teams. Booker had 9 of those 22 points. Bridges had 8.
The Suns passing was really lacking in this one. Patrick Beverley was getting into Cam Payne’s body, and it took Booker to take over scoring for a while. The Suns only had 2 assists on their first 8 made field goals (25%). They usually have a 67% assist rate.
Here comes the bench unit with Booker for the last three minutes of the quarter. Duane Washington Jr, Damion Lee, Josh Okogie and Bismack Biyombo hit the court. They didn’t have a good sequence.
Luckily, the Lakers were bad too and the Suns still led, 26-22, after one. Booker leads the Suns with 11 points. Bridges has 8. They’re a combined 7-12 from the field. The rest of the Suns are just 3-11.
Phoenix took a 39-32 lead on a Damion Lee three with 7:05 left in a second quarter that somehow was worse basketball than we saw in quarter one. I don’t know how, but somehow. The Suns just aren’t totally dialed in. A scrappy second unit had to be scrappier than ever just to keep that lead.
They eventually took a 47-37 lead after the return of Booker to feed Bridges for a three. But then the Lakers went on a 15-2 run to take the lead, 50-49, spurred by Anthony Davis’ play on both ends (mostly on the defensive end). For the most part, Duane Washington Jr. had a bad stint, getting blocked by AD and driving into him for a miss at another point. The Suns missed 7 of 8 shots during the run.
Suns were down 55-53 at half after Deandre Ayton fell for an Anthony Davis lump fake on a three (he’s a 21% shooter from there!). Anthony Davis had a very effective first half with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in only 17 minutes. Meanwhile Deandre Ayton has only 4 points and 7 rebounds at half. Mikal Bridges led the Suns with 16 points and 4 rebounds, while Devin Booker had the Suns with 13 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds. The Lakers led the Suns in all the hustle areas: points in the paint (+8), free throws (+10), second chance points (+4) and fast break points (+3). The only place the Suns lead is on threes (+18).
If the Suns don’t turn around the hustle numbers, this will be a bad loss.
The Suns started well in the second half, inducing bad jumpers from the Lakers most of the time while getting good looks themselves. But Payne was still painful to watch shooting layups. He made one toilet bowl shot but missed another pair, worried about Anthony Davis’ quick reflexes for blocks. He didn’t just short-armed the shots. Unfortunately, you can’t just put in Duane Washington Jr. in his place because that dude played even worse.
Still, the starters took the lead back 65-57 with good defense but couldn’t turn it into a blowout because that’s all they had going in this one.
Bridges made a three to give the Suns a 71-61 lead and a that point the Suns were +30 on threes. PLUS 30, but with only a 10-point lead. That’s asking for trouble, folks! And once again, right after I typed the last line, the Lakers quickly pulled it back to a 2-point deficit just on hustle and a couple long-needed threes.
Late in the third, Book was out there only with a pair of two-ways (Ish and Duane), Damion Lee and Bismack Biyombo. The Lakers tried to close the gap with Davis and Russ, along with Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves and Troy Brown Jr.
The Suns three-point shooting keeps saving them — they led 86-79 after three, with a +33 on threes. They are otherwise -18 on free throws, -1 on second chance points, -12 on points in the paint. Davis is having just a crazy good game for the Lakers: 28 points, 18 rebounds in 29 minutes.
To start the fourth, it was Bridges with the benchies in place of Book. Duane Washington Jr. made a trio of shots and the Suns played good defense against the Lakers’ subs. Soon the Suns was 11 and Anthony Davis got back out on the floor.
Any lead is tenuous when you’re relying on one shot type for success, and the Suns missed the next three threes but the Lakers just could not capitalize this time. The bench guys kept a 10-point lead to the 7-minute mark, 98-88.
Once again, the Lakers attacked the basket relentlessly (not always successful, but enough of the time) and cut the Suns lead again. They now have a +23 points at the line over the Suns.
Duane Washington Jr. gave some more good minutes when Payne got his 5th foul, taking some offensive pressure off Booker.