The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a tough loss Tuesday night, as they fell to the Sacramento Kings 97-96 despite an outstanding fourth quarter performance from Lou Williams.
They did not have much time to think about that loss as they were back on the court Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star break.
The game was a battle for last place in the Western Conference, as the Lakers traveled to took the road to face the lowly Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers sloppy play in recent weeks continued to begin the game, as two early turnovers led to Phoenix jumping out to an early 7-0 lead after a three-pointer by Devin Booker causing Luke Walton to burn an early timeout.
A second chance opportunity out of the timeout got the Lakers on the board, as Julius Randle was fouled and made both free throws. Tarik Black then fouled Marquese Chris on a dunk attempt on the next possession, giving Black two fouls, so Walton inserted Ivica Zubac into the lineup to replace him.
The Suns were getting out in transition early and often and used 11 early fast break points to jump out to a 21-6 lead.
Walton brought in his entire second unit, but the turnovers continued, and the Suns lead got to 25-6 before Zubac was fouled on a dunk attempt and drained a pair of free throws to end the run.
Nothing went the Lakers way in the first quarter, as they had eight turnovers and shot just 5-for-19 from the field, trailing 32-15 after one frame. Booker had a very impressive 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
The Lakers started knocking down some shots to start the second quarter, and after Williams drilled a three the deficit was cut to 39-26, causing the Suns to call a timeout.
The deficit got down to 11, but veteran Leandro Barbosa drove baseline and earned a three-point play, bringing the Suns lead back to 14.
A couple of possessions later Jordan Clarkson was called for travel, and while he was arguing the call, Booker drilled a jumper at the other end to put the lead at 18.
Seven straight points for the Lakers cut it to 11, but again the Lakers couldn’t get over the hump as the deficit ballooned back to 19 after Eric Bledsoe made a pair of free throws and Booker drilled back-to-back threes.
The Lakers were unable to make any sort of run to close the quarter, and Bledsoe banked in three from half court at the buzzer to give Phoenix a 68-48 lead at halftime. The 68 points was a season-high for the Suns in the first half.
Booker led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while Bledsoe had 10 points, 10 assists, and four rebounds. Williams led the Lakers with nine points.
The second half began much like the first did, as the Suns began the quarter on a 9-2 run. D’Angelo Russell ended that by draining a mid-range jumper, but the Suns still led by 25 at 77-52.
Midway through the third quarter, the Lakers were just 1-for-8, which is not a recipe to make a comeback. After a pair of free throws by Chriss, the Phoenix lead was a game-high 30 points.
In one of the Lakers worst defensive performances of the season, the Suns eclipsed the century mark before the end of the third quarter and led 102-76 at the end of three.
The uninspiring basketball by the Lakers continued into the fourth quarter, and there was no comeback to be had Wednesday night as the Suns came away with a 137-101 victory. The win brought the Suns within 0.5 games of the Lakers, as they head into the All-Star break at 18-39, while the Lakers dropped to 19-39.
Bledsoe stayed in the game for half of the fourth quarter in pursuit of a triple-double, and he was successful as he was taken out with a game-high 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 13 assists. Booker did most of his work in the first half but still finished with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting.