It was a forgetful night for the Los Angeles Lakers as they were thoroughly outplayed by the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. A late charge made it look close, but the Lakers still lost, 115-105, to fall to 0-2.
Russell Westbrook got the Lakers on the board after hitting a sweet jumper off the glass, but the Suns took a 9-4 lead after Chris Paul found Deandre Ayton for a lob. Westbrook came up with two good defensive plays that ignited an 11-4 run punctuated by a LeBron James three, giving Los Angeles a 15-13 lead. Westbrook’s energy early was much better than in his debut.
Kent Bazemore did a great job making life difficult on Devin Booker, but unfortunately, James picked up his second foul after being called for a charge. Anthony Davis made several defensive plays, including a dive to the floor to rip the ball away from Cameron Payne, and the Lakers led 26-23 after the first.
James got called for a flagrant foul when Jae Crowder landed on his foot and even though head coach Frank Vogel lost his challenge, the star remained in the game. With the Suns in the bonus, Chris Paul took full advantage by earning several trips to the line, leaving the Lakers trailing 40-36.
L.A. really struggled on both ends midway through the quarter and several calls that did not go their way helped put them down by double digits. Rajon Rondo was able to inject some life into the Lakers by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, but the Suns quickly responded which left L.A. down 57-44 at the half.
Shortly before the end of the first half, things got chippy on the Lakers bench with Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis exchanging shoves as the team was in the midst of a poor stretch.
It was a rough start to the third as the Suns extended their lead, although James remained hot from the field after he knocked down his fourth three of the night. Things went from bad to worse as the Lakers could not buy a basket and found themselves down by more than 20.
With L.A. down by so much, the team’s collective body language was poor and frustrations started to show on the court when Bazemore picked up a tech after giving up an and-one to Booker. Los Angeles could not generate any positive momentum whatsoever and went into the final period down 94-67.
The Lakers finally showed some fight to begin the fourth as they competed defensively and finally got some shots to fall. Los Angeles looked like they could conceivably make the game interesting, but they blew several opportunities near the rim and allowed Phoenix to stay well ahead.
L.A. did get within 12 with under two minutes remaining after rookie Austin Reaves hit a three, but the Suns immediately responded with one of their own, making a comeback attempt tough. The Lakers kept fighting though, getting within single digits, although it was too little, too late.
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