In their second preseason tilt, the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns 119-115.
Anthony Davis was a late scratch due to lower back tightness so Wenyen Gabriel got the start in his place. Darvin Ham also went with a different look in the starting lineup, going with Patrick Beverley and Austin Reaves in a smaller group.
With Davis out, Russell Westbrook shouldered most of the offensive load early as he scored the Lakers’ first six points. LeBron James also managed to hit his first field goal of the preseason off a long step-back jumper.
Kendrick Nunn entered the game and instantly provided some scoring punch, knocking down a corner three and then knifing into the lane for an uncontested layup. Despite some missed defensive rebounding chances, the Lakers led after the first quarter 35-28.
Reaves showed up defensively, blocking Chris Paul and then knocking the ball off Landry Shamet to give possession back to Los Angeles. James then re-entered the game and hit back-to-back threes, including one from near the logo that kept the Lakers ahead by double digits.
Gabriel once again flashed his energy on both ends by contesting a shot and then running the lane hard in transition to finish a lob from James. A messy finish to the half narrowed the gap, but the Lakers went into the break ahead 69-62.
Cole Swider got the start in place of James to start the second, but the Lakers endured several defensive breakdowns that allowed the Suns to pull within four. However, Nunn was able to keep L.A. afloat with an array of layups and jumpers.
Despite some tough shots from the Suns, the Lakers were able to respond on the other end to stay in front through most of the quarter. Phoenix briefly got it down to three points, but Nunn answered with one of his own to keep Los Angeles up 95-91 at the end of the third.
The Suns were able to take the lead after the Lakers gave up multiple open looks from distance, falling behind by five. Both teams opted to play the end of their benches which resulted in sloppy plays, but Phoenix kept the momentum with timely shots.
It was a tight game down the stretch, with the Lakers doing their best to hang around. The Purple and Gold had a chance to tie it up on their final possession but unfortunately they came up short and would walk away with the loss.
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