One night after going toe-to-toe with the Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the best record in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a 118-109 loss to the league-worst Phoenix Suns.
Whereas the Lakers played with good energy and defensive focus against the Bucks, the Suns largely had their way early as they built up a 10-point lead in the first quarter. Lakers head coach Luke Walton went to multiple lineups in search of a boost of energy, but to no avail.
With Brandon Ingram, LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma each on the bench to start the second quarter, Phoenix largely continued to have their way. Their lead swelled to 13 points before James began to assert himself late in the second quarter.
He helped key a 13-3 run that got the Lakers to within four points of the Suns. Phoenix managed to stabilize themselves some, taking advantage of Lakers turnovers and scoring another 33 points in a quarter to lead 66-59 at halftime.
Unable to find a solution in the first half, Walton replaced Reggie Bullock with JaVale McGee to start the third quarter. His presence helped slow DeAndre Ayton, but the Suns still managed to find scoring elsewhere.
While the Lakers managed to hang around through much of the third quarter, the Suns stretched it out to 19 points early in the fourth. The Lakers mounted a 10-3 run to force a timeout, but they still trailed by 12 points.
L.A. continued to steadily chip away, largely behind James spearheading another rally. But just as they cut their deficit to eight points, James missed a 3-pointer and the Lakers turned the ball over out of a timeout.
They later got to within one possession but never quite managed to get over the hump and suffered a frustrating loss that may have done irreparable damage to their playoff hopes.
The game seemingly swung on a questionable call that went against Josh Hart when it appeared he was hooked by Ayton, who made his two free throws. James followed that by attacking the basket and drawing a whistle on the Lakers’ next possession, only to miss both attempts at the line.
James moved into fifth on the NBA all-time field goals made lists, while Rajon Rondo reached 20th in assists.
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