The Phoenix Suns showed their start to the 2019-20 NBA season was no fluke, but behind Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and some clutch Kyle Kuzma shooting, the Los Angeles Lakers got back on the winning track.
Davis led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds, James flirted with another triple-double, and Kuzma knocked down a pair of clutch three-pointers to ice the game as the Lakers left Phoenix with a 123-115 win over the Suns.
James finished with 19 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds while Kuzma added 23 off the bench including 13 in the first quarter. The game followed the team’s recipe for success, but the Suns shooting kept them in the game all night.
The Lakers had 39 assists on their 51 made baskets and shot 53.7 percent from the field overall. They outrebounded the Suns, turned the ball over only nine times, and allowed the fast-paced Suns just 10 transition points which has been an issue for their otherwise solid defense this season.
The big equalizer was the Suns three-point shooting. They hit 16-of-38 from deep including four each by Aron Baynes and Dario Saric. While the Lakers hit 10 themselves, the Suns’ 18-point advantage from that range kept things close all night.
Another issue for the Lakers was their free-throw shooting. They shot just 11-of-21 from the line with James hitting just 2-of-7 and even the reliable Danny Green missing one down the stretch.
The Lakers also got major contributions from their supporting cast. JaVale McGee scored all 11 of his points in the third quarter while Dwight Howard added 12 points off the bench. Rajon Rondo also made an impact in his season debut with five points, six rebounds, and seven assists in 14 minutes and Danny Green bounced back with 14 points.
Bradley had eight points and five assists and his huge offensive rebound set the stage for the first of Kuzma’s late fourth-quarter threes. That shot, coincidentally, was assisted by Caruso who led the Lakers with a +15 rating despite his box score not looking overly impressive.
What was impressive for Caruso was his defense, particularly on Devin Booker. Caruso frustrated him throughout the night, drawing a pair of charges on him as Booker looked visibly frustrated.
Now 8-2, the Lakers have a quick turnaround as they return home for their first back-to-back of the season against the injury-ravaged Golden State Warriors.