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Game Preview: Suns’ California trip continues against rival Lakers

The Suns and Lakers both really need to figure some things out.

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In-Season Tourament - Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Who: Phoenix Suns (19-18) @ Los Angeles Lakers (19-19)

When: 8:00 pm AZ Time

Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California

Watch: TNT

Listen: KMVP 98.7 FM


The Los Angeles Lakers are right there at the top of the list for all teams that Suns fans hate the most. The Lakers are everything it’s easy to dislike about the NBA. Sure, they have a rich history, and many of their historical stars are widely respected and even revered. But they’re also a big market, big money franchise with a penchant for reloading via free agency and turning bad teams into playoff teams.

These Lakers are underachievers, despite winning the NBA In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas. The Suns are underachievers too.

Probable Starters

Injury Report

Phoenix Suns:

  • Damion Lee - OUT (Right Meniscus)

Los Angeles Lakers:

  • Anthony Davis - PROBABLE (Left Ankle Sprain/Bone Bruise)
  • Rui Hachimura -DOUBTFUL (Left Calf Strain)
  • LeBron James - QUESTIONABLE (Left Ankle)
  • Cam Reddish - QUESTIONABLE (Facial Laceration)
  • Gabe Vincent - OUT (Left Knee)

Uniform Matchup

What to Watch For

There are four legendary or soon-to-be legendary players in this matchup. With respect to Bradley Beal, the Kevin Durant and Devin Booker vs. Lebron James and Anthony Davis showdown should be compelling to watch for any NBA fan, even though the two teams are hovering around the .500 mark.

Both teams are also in a similar place in terms of being all in on winning, but having some trouble firing on all cylinders. The night will belong to whichever team has it more figured out in this particular contest.

Key to a Suns Win

At the risk of sounding duplicative: defense. The Suns have had a mediocre defense this season, ranking just 14th in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions.

The Lakers are just 24th in the league in scoring per 100. If the Suns can force a Laker not named Lebron or AD to beat them, it will be a formula for success. Unlike the Suns’ previous opponents, the Clippers, the Lakers are not deadly at knocking down triples when help defense comes against the isolation, as they rank all the way back at 29th in three-pointers made per 100.

Prediction

I almost never pick against the Suns in these previews, because I’m the kind of fan that wants to believe the Suns can win every single night, so why be negative?

That said, this is a road game against a team that is motivated to avoid slipping below .500. The overall talent level on these two teams is similar, and the Lakers are 3-0 against our Suns this season.

As much as it pains me, I have to say the Lakers win a close, kind of ugly game littered with missed chances for the Suns.

Lakers 107, Suns 103

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