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Game Recap: Suns depth shines in 123-100 preseason victory over the Lakers

A team that “lacks depth” has a bench that outscored the Lakers second team unit 75-38

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns ended their preseason in Palm Desert, California, earning a win against the Los Angeles Lakers, bringing their final record that does not count to 4-1. It was the final tune up prior to the commencement of the highly anticipated 2023-24 season that will tip off next Tuesday in Golden State against the Warriors.

Without Devin Booker or Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant was the only member of the big three to suit up. He played only in the first half, shooting 8-of-14 and scoring 21 points in his 17 minutes played. Eric Gordon got the start alongside Grayson Allen. EG had 10 points and 2 assists, whereas Allen struggled with his three-point shot, going 0-of-5.

Drew Eubanks was the clear winner for the extra minutes that he received. He played excellent in multiple facets of his game, scoring 7 points, grabbing 9 rebounds, and leading the team with 6 assists. He also provided us with the highlight of the night, a savage dunk over Rui Hachimura.

It was the Suns’ second team unit that played extremely fluid, outscoring the Lakers 69-42 in the second half.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James both played for Los Angeles, and did so into the third quarter. They combined for 34 points and 8 rebounds. It was the first time Durant and LeBron shared the court since 2018.

Phoenix will play the Lakers for real a week from tonight in Los Angeles.

Game Flow

First Half

The Suns would not be at full strength, despite Frank Vogel stating a day ago that his players would play, and we should see them play into the fourth. Devin Booker and Bradley Beal would not suit up for this one.

It was a rough start for the Suns, most notably for Jusuf Nurkic as he was hit with a moving screen, a turnover as he wasn’t looking for a pass, a shot blocked by AD, a poor defensive rotation. All in the first two-and-a-half minutes. He was clearly overmatched on the interior of both ends.

The defensive presence of Davis forced numerous misses at the rim as Phoenix was attacking early on often. Block after block — 5 total for AD in the first quarter — and a Suns team that has been an offensive juggernaut had just 4 points in their first five-and-a-half minutes of play.

Phoenix started 1-of-15 from the field.

Despite the poor shooting, and numerous turnovers by Phoenix, they kept the score close as the Lakers were not lighting up the scoreboard either. Los Angeles shot 27.3% from the field.

LeBron did get poked in the eyes in the first and went down in quite the heap. I hope he survives.

The Suns went on an 11-1 scoring run in the latter stages of the quarter, hitting 7 of their last 10 shots. After one, the sputtering Suns led 24-20.

Kevin Durant and LeBron James started the second quarter by trading offensive blows, and if you are a fan of basketball, it was fun to watch. To see two players with 36 combined years of NBA experience between them is something special. KD scored 16 points in the second.

Drew Eubanks showcased his defensive capabilities on numerous occasions, throughout the first half. He was making the right decisions and rotating effectively, leading to block shots and quality rebounds on both ends of the floor.

Anthony Davis continued to abuse Nurkic on the offensive end, at one point rattling off 8 consecutive points for the Los Angeles Lakers. Los Angeles opened the second shooting 13-of-17, pushing their lead to 12 points. Phoenix fought back behind Easy Money Sniper’s offensive output, including a smooth step back three over King James.

The Lakers scored 38 points in the quarter, taking with them a 58-54 lead into the half.

Second Half

The Lakers starters played into the third but the Suns held their own when they departed. The Lakers only led by 1 when AD and LeBron checked out with 7 minutes left in the third. We’d be superstar-free for the remainder of the game as Kevin Durant’s night was finished as well.

The Phoenix reserves did well for the remainder of the third period, controlling the glass on both the offensive and defensive ends. Drew Eubanks continued to dictate pace, finding cutters to the cylinder, and hitting them in stride.

Grayson Allen had an off night as he went 3-of-12 in his starting role (0-of-5 from deep), ending with 6 points.

Still, the Suns outscored the Lakers 35-15 in the third. A team whose depth is questioned showed that their bench is indeed talented. They played as a cohesive unit which led to easy in-rhythm buckets. The Suns ended the 3rd quarter up 16, 89-73.

The defense continued to look in sync in the fourth and the Frank Vogel influence appears to be influencing all corners of the Suns’ roster. D leads to O, and Phoenix extended their lead to 25 with 8 minutes left.

Chimezie Metu continued his hot preseason shooting from beyond the arc as he has found the stroke from the three-quarter spot on the floor. He hits that shot consistently throughout the season and he’ll find himself playing regularly.

Bol Bol once again did not impress this writer. The mental mistakes and poor positioning stick out like a sore thumb. Is this the last we’ve seen of him? We’ll soon know how the Suns want to navigate their final cut of the season.

After all was said and done, the Suns downed the Lakers by a final score of 123-100.

That’s all she wrote for the preseason! The next time we will see the Suns it will be against the Golden State Warriors next Tuesday night! Stay tuned to Bright Side for plenty to discuss until then, from the final roster cut to preseason predictions, we’ve plenty to talk about!

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