The Los Angeles Lakers took home a Game 3 win over the Phoenix Suns — and a 2-1 series lead in the process — despite not playing up to their standards in any way. Frank Vogel’s defense did a good job, holding the Suns to just 95 points and forcing 17 turnovers. However, like it has been all season, their offense did not hold up their end of things.
Despite winning by 14, the Lakers shot an abysmal 44.2% from the field and 25% from three. They also had just 19 assists to the Suns’ 24, with the biggest reason for this discrepancy being turnovers. L.A. gifted the Suns numerous extra possessions by turning the ball over 20 times. Losing 20 possessions and winning a playoff game by 14 is an unsustainable proposition.
Vogel knows this, making it his top priority for Game 4. “We got to limit our turnovers for sure,” Vogel said before the game. “That’s the first thing that comes to mind. Too many poor reads, too many poor passes. Not understanding we’re taking what the defense is giving us and making the game easy. When we do that, keeping our turnovers down. Get more quality shots and your percentages go up.”
And while 3-point shot-making isn’t as urgent in his mind, it’s still a necessity to improve given they are shooting just 27.6% from that range for the series.
“Ideally, yes. But if you are attacking the paint and get to the free-throw line a bunch, the 3-point percentage isn’t 100 percent necessary. Everything helps, right? So we’re definitely going to work on improving it.”
Game 4 could be the biggest game of the series for both sides. If the Lakers win, they’ll take a commanding 3-1 lead back to Phoenix. The Lakers went 4-1 last postseason in closeout games, meaning they have the experience to shut down any potential comebacks.
If the Suns win, it will be tied 2-2 and they will take home-court advantage right back with three games left in the series at most. If L.A. wants to avoid this, they will do whatever they can to limit turnovers and shoot the ball at a more consistent clip.
Vogel not worrying about Paul injury
Chris Paul has clearly not been the same player for the Suns since hurting his shoulder early into Game 1 of this series. However, it has not affected how Vogel is attacking his game plan. “It’s tough to say. I’m not really focused on that, to be honest. We’re expecting him to be able to go out and do what he does as long as he’s on the floor.
“He’s showing he’s making great reads in the pick-and-roll game. Disrupting defensively, making his pull-up jump shots. So we’re not responding to this injury with anything different than play him like he’s at full strength. That’s what we have to expect, but slow him down.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!