In their first home playoff game in eight years, the Los Angeles Lakers took a 2-1 series lead after winning Game 3 against the Phoenix Suns, 109-95.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel surprisingly burned his challenge 15 seconds into the game after Anthony Davis was called for a questionable 3-point foul on Jae Crowder, although it was unsuccessful. Andre Drummond got the fans in Staples Center roaring after coming up with a highlight block on Devin Booker and later getting a dunk after a nice dropstep.
The Suns tied up the game after Mikal Bridges knocked down a pair of threes, but Kyle Kuzma found Davis for a lob to put the Lakers back up two. However, Booker was able to carve up the Los Angeles defense and they would go into the second down 28-27.
LeBron James was able to help the Lakers recapture the lead after finding Alex Caruso on a cut and later Drummond for a lob. After Phoenix re-tied the game, both teams then struggled to score as the defenses picked up and several turnovers were forced.
Kuzma was able to break the Laker drought from outside as he knocked down his first 3-pointer of the series, but the Suns clung to a one-point lead as each squad failed to generate much offense. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finally got something to go from the field as he hit two layups and the Lakers would take a slim 43-40 lead into the halftime.
It was a good start for the Purple and Gold atop the third as James keyed a quick 6-0 spurt to push the lead to nine. The Laker defense was also much more active, forcing misses and turnovers that ignited their transition attack which eventually led to their first double-digit advantage of the night.
Los Angeles continued to execute well on both ends, with James and Davis leading the way to put the team up 16 but saw Dennis Schroder and Caldwell-Pope come up limping on separate plays. Davis dominated the final minutes of the third by scoring nine consecutive points and the Lakers took a 76-63 lead into the fourth.
Los Angeles extended their lead to 18 after Wesley Matthews was able to hit consecutive threes, forcing a Phoenix timeout. The Staples Center crowd got even more into the game and the Lakers fed off their energy, with James taking delight in taking on Jae Crowder in isolation situations.
Cameron Payne tried to bring the Suns back into the game after hitting three consecutive triples, cutting the Laker lead to 12. It was a sloppy finish for Los Angeles as late turnovers and poor decision-making gave Phoenix life, but they ultimately sealed the game at the line.
There was some late-game theatrics as Booker earned an ejection with a flagrant two foul on Schroder, while Crowder quickly followed him by being ejected himself.
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