The Los Angeles Lakers had their hands full today. Marc Gasol was ruled out for health and safety protocols, and Kyle Kuzma is dealing with a right heel contusion. Montrezl Harrell started today in place for Marc Gasol. The Phoenix Suns came out the gate hitting 6 of 8 3 pointers. While the Lakers only shot 1 of 6 from 3 point land. Jared Dudley provided valuable minutes for the Lakers with his presence on the floor. He was at the right spots at the right time on the defensive end. The Lakers were able to stay within striking distance in the game despite the Suns shooting. They played great defense and hit some mid-range shots as well as aggressively attacking the paint. Lakers only trailed the Suns by 8 points 29-21 at the end of the first quarter.
Second quarter starts of on the right foot when Talen Horton-Tucker hits back to back 3. A good sign as the Lakers were struggling with 3’s in the first quarter. LeBron James also in this second quarter starts to set the pace by driving to the basket and brilliant passing to create opportunities for his teammates. Four minutes into the second quarter it was the LeBron, and THT show. Damian Jones also got in the game quickly and made his impact felt early by blocking a shot that led to break which resulted in a score. Jones showed off quick hands to deflect passes. However Phoenix’s shooting kept them in the game. Both teams started trading leads back and forth between in the second quarter.
Key moment in the second quarter was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was given a flagrant foul on a Devin Booker that was driving on a fast break. From there on after that flagrant call Devin Booker had it going in the quarter is was keeping Phoenix afloat. Booker ends the quarter realizing the defense is paying him extra attention and kicks it out to an open Mikal Bridges to end the first half with a 3. This game is tightly contested thus far with 12 lead changes, and 3 ties in the game. Phoenix lead the Lakers going into halftime 60-53.
First half performers for the Lakers is of course LeBron James with 15 points, 1 block, 2 assists, and 3 boards. THT was also huge coming off the bench with his 12 points to reignite the early shooting woes for the Lakers to start the 2nd quarter. For the Phoenix Suns their first half performers were Devin Booker at 15 points, 2 steals, and 4 assists. Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Jae Crowder contributed with their 3 point shooting combining 8 out of 10. DeAndre Ayton also chipped in 9 points to keep the Phoenix threat viable inside the paint.
The third quarter starts and Phoenix goes to DeAndre Ayton for some easy dunks, and lobs. Lakers feel some calls didn’t go their way or have went against them which leads to LeBron, and head coach Frank Vogel picking up technical fouls. Veteran moves by LeBron and Vogel because Lakers start driving to the basket shortly after to put pressure on the refs to make some calls. It lead to a stunning development. With frustration boiling for the Suns, Devin Booker picks up back to back technical fouls and is ejected from the game. Which to be fair even looking at the replays I see no reason why Booker should’ve been tossed. The referees have lost control in this third quarter. They are now over reacting and calling ticky-tack fouls. Additionally, they are going to replay to assess certain fouls such as a common foul on Markieff Morris.
Phoenix, despite the disruption of the game from the refs, still shot the ball well enough to keep a narrow lead going into the fourth quarter of 86 to 83.
The fourth quarter begins and Lakers dig themselves in a hole early. Dario Saric gets an easy lay up, and draws a foul to increase the lead to 7 points. You can sense with LeBron on the bench that Phoenix’s other superstar Chris Paul is getting more involved in the offense. Paul takes his second shot of the game and makes a 3. Phoenix put the Lakers in a hole of being down 10 points. Vogel quickly realizes the game could be getting out of hand and inserts LeBron to put on his cape. Once again it’s LBJ to rescue the Lakers from this deficit. The Suns at this point are still shooting a ridiculous 57% from 3 point range.
The Suns have done a good job, and unfortunately for the Lakers just couldn’t overcome the Suns shooting from the perimeter. Dario Saric was a huge factor down the stretch, and Chris Paul did just enough for his team to help them over the finish line. Unfortunately for the Lakers not only do the have to deal with the loss but another injury as well with Alex Caruso as he was diagnosed with neck spasms and didn’t return to the game.
It Was a Slobber Knocker
Tough loss for the Lakers as they were in it for the most part of the game but let it slip away with their defensive rotations in the 4th quarter and allowed the Suns to hit key, and timely 3’s to increase a lead which the Lakers didn’t have another run in them to stay within striking distance.
Next game and final game for the first half of the season will be tomorrow at 7pm against the Sacramento Kings. We’ll have our eyes on this one here at thePeachBasket as this could be another tight game for the Lakers due to all the injuries they have sustained. Until then follow me our website The Peach Basket, our Twitter @thePeachBasket_, and lastly give me a follow on Twitter @Real_Ajay_Virk