Although the Los Angeles Lakers have had a rough go of it this season with respect to injuries, head coach Luke Walton has regularly praised his team for its focus and commitment to improving and pushing past obstacles.
The Lakers were thrown two more Sunday night, when Kyle Kuzma was ruled out because of a hip strain that’s bothered him for the past week, and Josh Hart asked to come out in the second half due to knee tendinitis that prevented him from participating in practice the day prior.
Down three starters, the Lakers still managed to take advantage of facing the similarly shorthanded Phoenix Suns. Michael Beasley, Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac helped set the tone early by scoring in the paint, and Lance Stephenson’s shooting sealed the win in the fourth quarter.
“Beasley and Brandon did a better job of getting off to better starts,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said after the 116-102 win. “Offensively I thought that helped us get off to a nice start and we kind of found our groove from there.”
“I thought that was a nice team win for us. The challenge to the guys before the game was keeping them out of transition. They’re young and they’re fast, they can fly up and down the court. Keep them out of transition, contain Booker as much as possible and attack the paint.
“I thought we did those things pretty well for the most part. We didn’t play the cleanest of games but we found a way to win. And we needed a win, so it was good to see the right out there. I thought we got a really nice game out of Rondo controlling the tempo. Zu was very, very good.”
The Lakers jumped out to a 14-4 lead and though they allowed the Suns to pull even, never trailed. Potent scorer Devin Booker had 21 points thanks in large part to a small flurry in the second half.
The Lakers managed to maintain control of the game thanks to a relentless attack on the rim, as they took advantage of DeAndre Ayton not playing because of an ankle injury.
Having snapped a three-game losing streak, the Lakers now enter into another difficult stretch in the schedule. They will host the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, then face the Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics all before the All-Star break.
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