After winning Western Conference Group A, the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Phoenix Suns in the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament on Tuesday night.
The Lakers got off to a great start on both ends of the floor and held a double-digit lead at halftime. However, Phoenix stormed back in the third quarter to make it a tight one that had fans holding their breath.
Los Angeles had their backs against the wall midway through the fourth, but they rallied in the final minutes to pull off a 106-103 victory and advance to the semifinals in Las Vegas.
LeBron James seems to be enjoying the In-Season Tournament as he always rises to the occasion, and that trend continued against a Suns team that had no answer for him when he got a full head of steam driving to the basket. James outmuscled his defenders in the paint for several easy baskets, but he also was active defensively.
James saved his best for the fourth quarter as he was directly responsible for almost every point Los Angeles scored. He finished the night with a near triple-double of 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. James also added five steals, tying his Laker-high and becoming the oldest player in franchise history to record that many.
Anthony Davis dominated the first half as he went to work near the rim, especially after Jusuf Nurkic got into foul trouble. Davis cleaned up the glass and made the Suns pay for playing smallball, setting the tone for the defense.
Davis had a quieter second half, but he still finished the evening with 27 points, 15 rebounds, one assist and two blocks.
While James and Davis were their usual superstar selves, Austin Reaves was the hero of the night as he came alive in the second half when the Laker offense floundered. Reaves hit timely shots to make sure the game never got too far away from L.A., but he hit the biggest shot of the night when he drained a 3-pointer in the final seconds to give the purple and gold a two-possession lead.
Reaves dropped 20 points off the bench and added six rebounds and two assists.
Lastly, Jarred Vanderbilt only hit one free throw but his biggest contributions came on the boards and defense. Vanderbilt pulled down four offensive rebounds and made Devin Booker and Kevin Durant work for their shots.
The Lakers as a whole dominated the offensive glass with 21 offensive rebounds on the night.
What’s next for Lakers
The Lakers will head to Las Vegas to take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night in the semifinals of the In-Season Tournament. If they beat New Orleans, Los Angeles will advance to the championship game on Saturday where they’ll play either the Indiana Pacers or Milwaukee Bucks.
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