Just two months after their first meeting of the season, which ended with a lesson from Phoenix in an electric atmosphere, the Lakers and Suns met that night at the Staples Center (which lives its last hours under this name).
And a little more than six months after their long series of six innings, in the first round of the last playoffs, the two teams engaged in a duel initially disjointed for a half, before the franchise of Arizona did not press the accelerator back from the locker room. Enough to win once again very quietly, in Los Angeles (108-90).
Shining individually, but too little support apart from Russell Westbrook (22 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, but 7 ball losses), LeBron James (34 points, 7 rebounds) could only see the difference in level that currently exists between the best team in the league, always led by a superb collective (seven players with 10 points or more), and its troops, certainly decimated.
Worse still: the quadruple MVP woke up his pain in the left ankle, in the middle of the third quarter …
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
— New physical alert for LeBron James. If he shone individually, spoiling very little in attack and constantly playing the defense of the Suns, the “King” was especially a great fright after the break. Badly landed on Jae Crowder’s foot, after an attempt at a “layup”, he thus sprained his left ankle. The same as the one that has plagued her life for several months.
Weakened, this part of the body of the Lakers winger will probably never leave him alone by the end of his career, as he had declared a few weeks ago. Appeared frustrated after his fall, to the point of hitting the ground several times, “LBJ” however managed to end the game, grinding his teeth. But, now, we are waiting to know if this alert will have consequences on his team, already deprived of Anthony Davis for a month …
— Phoenix in his hand. A diesel start for the holders, then a return to the score thanks to the first rotations, in the first quarter. Repeated twice in the second act, this time with the bench which is holed, then the starting five which puts the house in order. And, back from the locker room, the Suns pass the second, in the wake of Devin Booker, not to let go of the controls until the end. And finish nearly twenty points apart. Collectively, Monty Williams’ men are on the prowl and they proved it tonight. Very easy, without being convincing, so the best team in the league did the job.
✅ Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. If we had to put forward two players from the Suns collective today, it would probably be Booker (24 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) and Ayton (19 points, 11 rebounds). In turn, they were able to punish the slightest defensive error of the Lakers. In the first half, the Bahamian pivot had a great time facing the weak and small Californian racquet (13 points, 6 rebounds, 100% on shots). In the third quarter, “Book” (10 points) was then responsible for putting Phoenix permanently in the shelter, with 3-points. Without forcing, the Booker / Ayton duo therefore recited their scales.
✅ Trevor Ariza. Carmelo Anthony frustrated, not on a good night (7 points, 2/7 on shots) and quickly sent off because of his two technical faults, the Lakers were able to count on the great productivity of their other veteran winger. Off the bench, the 36-year-old brought 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in 21 minutes. All at 4/4 on shots and 3/3 at 3-points. A full match, on both sides of the floor, from Ariza, for his second outing of the season. And this one already seems to be establishing itself as LeBron James’ main rotation on the wing. If not more, because he could perfectly integrate the starting five, eventually.
⛔ Isaiah Thomas et Talen Horton-Tucker. 57 minutes, 6 points, 2/24 on shots, 0/14 on 3-points. These are the horrific cumulative statistics of the Thomas / Horton-Tucker pair, tonight. If Rajon Rondo, DeAndre Jordan or even Wayne Ellington have clearly not been brilliant against the Suns, it is impossible to do worse than the leader and the Lakers back / winger. After two interesting games, “IT” fell into line, constantly breaking its teeth on the opposing defense, despite its many efforts. As for “THT”, little inspired and just out of the health protocol, he logically seemed to be short of pace.
Los Angeles (16-16) : reception in San Antonio, Thursday night to Friday (4:30 am).
Phoenix (25-5) : Oklahoma City reception, Thursday night through Friday (3:00 am).