The Los Angeles Lakers get an early chance for revenge from their premature 2021 playoff exit as they take on the Phoenix Suns in the second game of the regular season.
The Suns and Lakers faced off in the first round last year and it immediately became apparent that they did not like one another as each game was a heated battle. With Anthony Davis on the mend due to a groin injury, the Suns were able to pull away, winning in six games en route to their NBA Finals journey.
Phoenix chose to run it back, excluding the minor additions of Landry Shamet and former Laker JaVale McGee. Meanwhile, the Lakers completely retooled, acquiring Russell Westbrook and a host of seasoned veterans.
For most of the Lakers players, this game does not carry the significance of last year’s first round. But it is a chance for this team to secure their first win of the 2021-22 season.
L.A. dropped their season opener to the Golden State Warriors, 121-114. Defense was a major issue, as there was a clear lack of on-court chemistry. Frank Vogel said that it’s simply a case of the defense not being on a string yet, meaning there’s hope for slight improvements with each game.
Westbrook also struggled mightily in his first official game as a Laker. He scored just eight points on 4-for-13 shooting while amassing five rebounds and four assists. For the Lakers to win against the Suns, he’ll certainly need to play better.
On the injury front, the Suns should be fully healthy just as they were during the postseason. Shamet is the only player listed on the injury report with a designation of questionable.
The Lakers have some more issues, however. Trevor Ariza, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and Wayne Ellington are all out once again. Ariza and Horton-Tucker remain a few weeks away from their re-evaluation, while Nunn is now out at least two weeks with a bone bruise in his knee.
Much like Tuesday, they’ll have to rely more on Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley off the bench with their guard depth mostly injured. Against the elite duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, perimeter defense will be vital yet again.
Kent Bazemore did a remarkable job guarding Stephen Curry on Tuesday, so he should be a major factor against Booker. Bradley could also likely be used to defend Paul.
Lakers (0-1) vs. Suns (0-1)
7:00 p.m. PT, Oct. 22, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Kent Bazemore
SF: LeBron James
PF: Anthony Davis
C: DeAndre Jordan
Key Reserves: Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo
Projected Suns Starting Lineup:
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Devin Booker
SF: Mikal Bridges
PF: Jae Crowder
C: DeAndre Ayton
Key Reserves: Cameron Payne, Landry Shamet, Cameron Johnson, JaVale McGee, Dario Saric
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