The Los Angeles Lakers returned home on Tuesday night and hosted the Phoenix Suns, although they remained severely shorthanded due to health and safety protocols.
Despite a close first half, the Lakers wound up getting blown out by the Suns, 108-88, after a poor third quarter.
Russell Westbrook was active on both ends to start, driving to the rim for the Lakers’ first score and later coming up with a steal. LeBron James asserted himself offensively by scoring six quick points, which gave Los Angeles a rare early double-digit lead at 16-6 midway through the period.
The Lakers went small with James at center, which allowed Deandre Ayton to get going near the painted area, though the Lakers held on to a three-point advantage. Devin Booker started to heat up from the field as he drained several long jumpers, but more drives from Westbrook allowed L.A. to take a 25-24 lead into the second.
The Suns’ cold shooting from outside continued to start the second as they missed several wide-open looks, but Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza got their threes to go to extend the Laker lead to eight. Chris Paul began to take over the Phoenix offense and they were able to tie the game up at 42-42.
Mikal Bridges started to perk up on both ends after a slow start, though an Ariza transition three kept the Lakers close. James took over in the final minutes of the quarter but L.A. would head into the half trailing 54-52.
It was a poor start to the third for the Lakers as they allowed an 11-2 run that quickly put them in an 11-point hole. Anthony was ejected from the game after picking up his second technical foul, and James looked like he sprained his ankle after landing on Jae Crowder’s foot though he was able to remain in the game.
James looked like he was able to move OK after the injury while the Lakers did their best to hang around. However, a couple of bad turnovers from Westbrook left L.A. staring at a 85-73 deficit going into the fourth quarter.
The Lakers were unable to capitalize on open looks from distance, while the Suns found themselves free for easy scores that forced another timeout from David Fizdale. James tried to keep L.A. in it, but Phoenix had no issues responding and keeping them well at bay.
Even though the Lakers were able to get good looks, they were unable to convert as the Suns built up a 20-point lead. With no time left to make much of a comeback, Los Angeles would suffer another blowout loss to Phoenix.
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