Lakers Vs. Suns Preview: Anthony Davis & Jaxson Hayes Return For NBA In-Season Tournament Opener
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers look to end their road trip on a positive note while also getting a win in their first game of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament when they take on the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. This will be the second meeting between the teams as LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the Lakers to their first win of the season over Kevin Durant and the Suns in the second game of the year.

Phoenix was without both Devin Booker and Bradley Beal that night and Booker will again be out of this contest as well, though Beal is expected to suit up after making his season debut Wednesday night. The Lakers’ biggest injury question involves Davis, who missed Wednesday’s game in Houston with hip spasms but he is expected to play, as is center Jaxson Hayes, who is dealing with a sprained ankle.

The Lakers badly need a win as they are on a three-game skid and still have yet to win a game on the road. Regardless of who has been on the court, the Lakers’ issues have remained the same and until they are fixed, the team will continue to struggle.

The Lakers are not only the worst first quarter in the NBA, they are the worst in history with a minus-74 mark through eight games. They have trailed by double-digits in seven of those contests and regularly dig themselves a hole that they must then try and climb out of. Additionally, the Lakers are dead last in allowing 19.3 second-chance points per game and have regularly been destroyed on the glass. Allowing multiple opportunities to a team with Durant and Beal is a recipe for disaster.

Offensively, the Lakers’ 3-point shooting that looked promising in the preseason has gone by the wayside in the regular season as they are dead last in 3-point percentage at under 30%. The looks are there as the constant attacking of the rim is creating open shots, but the shooters have to begin knocking them down. Eventually teams will simply pack the paint and make life more difficult on LeBron, Davis and Austin Reaves trying to get to the rim.

The Suns are not a team with a lot of size and shouldn’t be able to keep the Lakers from controlling the paint or the glass, but that hasn’t mattered in recent contests.

For the Lakers, it is about an entire team effort. From energy, to rebounding, to shooting and everything else, the entire team must be locked in and ready to do anything to get the team a victory and start this In-Season Tournament off right.

Los Angeles Lakers (3-5) vs. Phoenix Suns (4-4)

7:00 p.m. PT, November 10, 2023
Footprint Center, Phoenix AZ
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: Taurean Prince
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Rui Hachimura, Jaxson Hayes, Christian Wood, Cam Reddish, Max Christie

Projected Suns Starting Lineup:

PG: Bradley Beal
SG: Grayson Allen
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Keita Bates-Diop
C: Jusuf Nurkic

Key Reserves: Eric Gordon, Josh Okogie, Yuta Watanabe, Drew Eubanks, Jordan Goodwin

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