Game 1 of the first-round series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns was a physical affair and that all came to a head in the fourth quarter of the game. Following a missed free throw, LeBron James and Chris Paul got tangled up leading to James hitting the floor. Cameron Payne would then get into it with Alex Caruso and Montrezl Harrell, leading to Payne’s ejection from the contest.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, this moment did not spark them to finish off their comeback and they would ultimately drop the first game of the series to the Suns, 99-90. The Lakers were obviously disappointed in the loss, but that scuffle also did not sit well with head coach Frank Vogel.
The Lakers coach made his thoughts on the incident very clear after the game. “My view was an overly aggressive boxout, dangerous play where LeBron [James] was in the air and got undercut and some guys stood up for him, I guess,” Vogel said.
“I didn’t see the exact exchange in terms of what happened with the altercation, but that’s why they have the video, they look at that and figure out what happened.”
In the end, Payne was the only player who was ejected while Caruso and Harrell each received technical fouls but remained in the game. Neither Paul nor James were assessed anything on the play.
For his part, Paul dismissed those accusations from Vogel, and simply chalked the play up to physical basketball in an interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports:
“I don’t know anything about that. I have absolutely nothing to say about that. We’re just playing basketball and competing,” Paul told Yahoo Sports after the Suns’ 99-90 victory to take a 1-0 series lead. “I’m just thankful we got the win, and I’m looking forward to Game 2.”
The Lakers will be desperate to leave Phoenix with a victory in Game 2 and with things already getting heated between the two sides, the next contest will be a must-watch affair.
Vogel remains confident in Lakers after Game 1 loss
Dropping Game 1 to the Suns was a disappointing result for the Lakers, but Vogel did see some positives in his team after the loss. “I thought our guys played with great intensity,” Vogel said. “I think we got taken out of a lot of things that we wanted to do offensively.”
“Phoenix had a week to prepare for us. Credit to them for doing a great job with that and we just got to execute a little bit better on the offensive side of the ball. We got to rebound a little bit better defensively and we got to make shots.”
Losing Game 1 is not unfamiliar territory for Vogel and the Lakers as they did so in the first two rounds of last season’s playoffs. While he understands that this is a completely different team, he does still remain confident in the Lakers moving forward.
“Last year’s team was last year’s team and we have guys returning, but we have a different group and we got to approach it differently, so we’re very confident in the team that we have. I know that much. Confident in what we’re going to do in terms of looking at the tape and making adjustments for Game 2.”
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