The season opener did not go as the Los Angeles Lakers had planned. The team struggled mightily on offense, ultimately falling to the Clippers 108-92. There is no time to dwell however, as the Lakers head straight to Phoenix to take on the Suns.
Like the Lakers, Phoenix had a season opening home loss they would like to forget as they were dominated 124-76 by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Both the Suns and the Lakers are young teams looking to show growth and development this season. This game will be a great early test for both teams as well as a great chance for the young players to get going.
It will be interesting to see if Luke Walton sticks with his starting lineup from opening night, but assuming he does, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball have their work cut out for them against the talented duo of Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe is an very athletic, strong defender who will look to make things tough on Ball two nights in a row. Despite his lackluster numbers overall, Ball did a good job of taking care of the ball and crashing the boards. He will need to look to be more aggressive scoring the ball to open up passing lanes.
If Ingram winds up matched up with Booker, his job defensively could arguably be more important than his offensive role. Booker is one of the NBA’s best young scorers who can light it up from anywhere on the court. Ingram needs to begin knocking down shots for sure, but slowing down Booker is top priority.
Jordan Clarkson was one of the few bright spots for the Lakers last night, finishing with 18 points off the bench. He will need to continue to be that spark off the bench as the Lakers’ offense has been subpar. The Suns have a couple of options off their bench in Tyler Ulis, who does a great job running the offense, and Troy Daniels, who can get hot at any time.
Arguably the Lakers’ best player last night was Larry Nance Jr. who finished with a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) while generally being active all night. Luol Deng had a forgettable night with only two points in 13 minutes and there are questions as to whether he will remain in the starting lineup.
They will have a tough matchup against T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson. Warren is a more than capable scorer while the rookie Jackson is an outstanding athlete who can defend and create for others. Nance in particular will need to be on his game to not allow one of them to give the Suns an extra boost.
Though he finished with a team-leading 20 points, Brook Lopez struggled to hit shots for most of the night. He has another matchup against an athletic, defensive-minded center in veteran Tyson Chandler. Lopez will need to focus on keeping Chandler off the boards as they can’t afford to have another night like DeAndre Jordan’s 25 rebound showing.
Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle were generally ineffective last night and that simply can’t continue. Randle was singled out by Luke Walton for not coming with the necessary energy, likely due to frustration from not starting. Meanwhile Kuzma, for the first time, looked like the stage and pressure got to him.
Phoenix has a couple of young bigs off the bench in Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, both of whom can stretch the floor. These are the types of players the Lakers have allowed to have huge games in the past so they can’t afford to lose focus.
Three Keys to Lakers Victory
Don’t Hang Your Heads: The Lakers’ struggles on offense led to the team losing confidence in the rest of their game, which can’t happen. The team’s defensive performance against the Clippers was actually decent until their offensive issues continued and their effort faltered. Consistent effort must be a staple, and missed shots can’t allow that to change.
Guard the Three-Point Line: Phoenix isn’t a great team, but they have some players who can get hot, especially from deep. Booker, Bledsoe, and Daniels in particular are extremely dangerous while guys like Warren, Chriss, and Bender can knock shots down as well. Nothing gives a team confidence and a crowd life like getting hot from deep and the Lakers’ cant allow it.
Number One Scorer Emerges: Brook Lopez and Brandon Ingram shot a combined 10-34 last night with Ingram in particular struggling with an abysmal 3-15 showing. The Lakers are struggling to score and it is on their top options to get them out of that slump. Whether it is Ingram or Lopez, a number one option has to step up and get this team going on offense.
Los Angeles Lakers (0-1) Vs. Phoenix Suns (0-1)
7:30 P.M. PST, October 20, 2017
Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/ 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Brandon Ingram
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Larry Nance Jr.
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Andrew Bogut, Corey Brewer
Projected Suns Starting Lineup:
PG: Eric Bledsoe
SG: Devin Booker
SF: Josh Jackson
PF: T.J. Warren
C: Tyson Chandler
Key Reserves: Tyler Ulis, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Troy Daniels