This weekend for Laker Nation had started great as the Los Angeles Lakers were riding a 4 game winning streak. Then our beloved king LeBron James gets hurt, and is diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. LeBron is out indefinitely, and is to comeback at the teams discretion. Which leaves us today with no LeBron, no Anthony Davis, and no Marc Gasol available. This is a tall task for this Lakers team to get a win against the Phoenix Suns. This is the first time this season this starting five has played together for a game.
The Lakers started with Dennis Schröder, Wesley Matthews, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and Markieff Morris today. The Phoenix Suns started the game scorching hot. Specifically Devin Booker who made 3/4 from the field. The Suns immediately led the Lakers 10-2 within three minutes into the first quarter. About mid way through the first quarter you can get a feel this is going to be a shootout, neither team is playing good defense. Also offensively it’s clears without LeBron the offense is going to have to depend on good screens, pick and roll action, and great ball movement to create scoring opportunities which the Lakers did well having 0 turnovers.
Despite the Suns looking more refined, and in tune the Lakers defense, which has created turnovers, kept them within in striking distance. They were down at the end of the first quarter by 5 points 31-26.
The Lakers started the quarter strong specifically Montrezl Harrell. Montrezl brought that energy off the bench, and scoring early which the Lakers will desperately need moving forward. Phoenix’s offense in the second quarter struggled early as three minutes into the quarter they only scored 4 points. While the Lakers have been scoring, and drawing fouls to get to the line. Due to the injuries mentioned earlier the Lakers got to see what Devontae Cacok, and Alfonzo McKinnie can do with some minutes in the quarter.
Cacok did drop a pass after rolling to the basket perfect which led to a Phoenix 7 point lead. However after that he fulfilled his role in his spare minutes by grabbing boards, and playing solid defense. A key highlight that didn’t have to do with the game is seeing LeBron on the bench wearing a boot for his high ankle sprain.
Booker started to get it rolling towards the end of the quarter. Booker gave the Suns an 11 point lead then, Jae Crowder ballooned the lead to 14 points with about 3 mins left in the quarter. The Lakers offense, and defense collapsed towards the end of the quarter. Outside of a Kuzma three pointer, and Montrezl diving to the basket for a layup they couldn’t buy a bucket. And the result of this led to a halftime deficit of 15 points 59-44.
Main concern for the Lakers would be they are just shooting 37.2% from the field, and shooting 16.7% from 3 point land. Which is not going to get it done. To go from the first quarter of moving the ball well but ended the half with only 10 assists is not great at all. Compared to the Suns as a team that totaled 19 assists shows the Suns eventually figured out the Lakers defense.
In the second half the Lakers are going to have to move the ball better, and knock down the open shots when the opportunities are there. It is going to be difficult to get this win without your two main stars. Key players at half for the Lakers were Kuzma scoring 9 points, and Montrezl with 10 pts at half. For the Suns it has been Booker with 14 points, and Deandre Ayton with 12 points.
The first five minutes of this third quarter will be very important since Lakers are down 15 to start the half. If Lakers can cut this lead down to 8 to 10 points you have a brand new ball game for the second half. Schroder seemed to got the message and scored 5 points out the gate quickly to cut it down to 10 within the first 2 minutes of the game. However the Suns quickly put the lead back to 15 points with their star players Booker and Ayton taking control during that stretch made by Schroder. To make matters worse 4 minutes into the quarter, and Lakers are out of fouls for the quarter.
However the Lakers heart of a champion came back and cut the lead down to 10 halfway through the quarter. Phoenix made little runs to try to push the lead back to what it was. But the Lakers with Kuzma, and Montrezl kept it close. Talen Horton-Tucker made a highlight block on Devin Booker which lead to an Alex Caruso and one opportunity. Lakers ended the quarter down 12, and managed only to cut down that 15 point deficit by three points.
To start the quarter both teams had a tough time scoring. Which didn’t bode well for the Lakers since that is a lapse you need the Suns to have in order to get back in the game. But the Lakers defense picked it up just a little bit and they cut the lead down to 10 three minutes into the quarter. The Lakers defense has been stout to start the quarter and has given Suns trouble scoring. Schroder has been a pest drawing a charging foul on Chris Paul, and a loose ball on Ayton. Schroder simply was a dog this quarter. Foul trouble has bitten the Lakers this quarter with Schroder picking up his 5th foul with 6 mins left in the game.
However this effort just wasn’t enough. The Suns eventually pulled away and got the victory with runs from Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Crowder hitting timely shots. Final score 111-94
Post game reaction
There’s nothing to be angry about or mad about this Lakers team today. They fought hard, and gave a valiant effort both offensively, and defensively. This is something Frank Vogel, and the coaching staff can work on. Losing is never acceptable but playing with this type of effort without your two stars is great. Make some adjustments by not having a quarter lapse like they did in the second quarter and the Lakers can perhaps steal one of these games coming up on the schedule. More importantly after this loss, standing wise, the Suns now have jumped the Lakers and are the 2nd seed in the Western Conference now. Lakers next game is Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans. It will be another tough game as well. Till then follow me on Twitter @Real_Ajay_Virk and @ThePeachBasket_ for your latest updates in the NBA, and Lakers basketball.
Vs. New Orleans Pelicans, Tuesday March 23rd at 4:30PM Pacific
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