The Lakers fall to the Suns, 115-105, after yet another stunning performance by Devin Booker. He had 25 points the night before he busted out with just over a minute left, but the Suns didn’t need that last minute from him to extend their streak over the Lakers to eight games.
With LeBron James sidelined, Darvin Ham has opted for the same starting lineup that has won the last three games. With Phoenix at home and having the second-best record in the West, many thought this would be an easy win for the Suns. In the first quarter, the Lakers silenced that noise. They trailed by just four to one, with Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Lonnie Walker IV playing well in the quarter. The rebounding battle was all tied at 14, and if it wasn’t for Booker heating up in the middle of the shot and a pair of threes from Mikal Bridges, the Lakers might have been ahead.
But they didn’t, and they found themselves in familiar territory, entering the latter. Would they play as they did during their three-game winning streak or would they fold now that they’re playing against a winning team? It was more than the first. The mostly benched unit of Gabriel, Westbrook, Walker, Thomas Bryant, and Austin Reaves held their own while Anthony Davis got plenty of rest. AD came back at 5:08 and continued to be productive, scoring 7 points points in the quarter. He had a scare when his left arm/wrist collided with Devin Booker, but after a timeout he came back and looked fine.
You know who was more than fine? Lonnie Walker IV and Russell Westbrook. Walker was dunking the basketball, finishing layups near the rim and had 6 points on six shots at the half. Russ’ Sixth Man of the Year campaign was alive and well in the first half, producing 7 points and 3 assists in his 14 minutes. Thanks to this teamwork, the Lakers finished the quarter on an 18-6 run and took a 55-53 halftime lead.
Unfortunately for Los Angeles, as has been typical for them, the third quarter got off to a rough start. Phoenix walked out on a 10-2 run led by Booker, which was just too much for Reaves or any Laker to cover.
With Davis still significantly bothered by his left arm injury, the rest of the team struggled to score. It wasn’t until the middle of the third when Walker started to heat up again, and an aggressive AD continued to reach the line and finish hard in the paint. Down by as many as ten in the third, the Lakers roared back. However, the NBA is a racing game and the Suns responded and finished the third big. Phoenix took the quarter and went into the quarter to go 86-79.
In the final quarter, the Lakers never managed to close the gap. Phoenix extended their lead by as many as 12 points and, to the Lakers’ credit, they never folded. They came close to six at the halfway point, but the most impactful thing to happen in the quarter was the sending off of Patrick Beverly (and, perhaps, his impending suspension). He checked the body of Deandre Ayton, who received a technical for taunting him to Austin Reaves, who was fouled hard by Devin Booker, who was also flagrantly fouled in this exchange. The benches didn’t clear, but there was a lot of shoving from players on both sides. It wasn’t the first — and probably wasn’t the last — time that Phoenix has been or will be involved in a situation like this during the season.
The cheeky calls helped keep the Lakers in the game a few more minutes, but they only delayed the inevitable. Despite another phenomenal game by Anthony Davis, the Lakers failed to win once again in Phoenix.
With his 36 points, 21 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 blocks, Anthony Davis becomes the 4th player to have at least those stats along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Bob McAdoo
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) November 23, 2022
Anthony Davis is good at basketball. He’s flirting with career highs in points and rebounds and is finally showing the grit and availability that the Lakers desperately needed from him for the past two seasons. He won’t play all 82 games as he dreamed at the start of the season, but he has played 15 out of 16 games and it’s hard to imagine asking for more. Not much has been good for the Lakers this season, but AD has been a franchise player.
The next fixture for the Lakers is a back-to-back matchup against the Spurs starting Friday. The injury report will be something to watch throughout the Lakers Nation as LeBron James can hopefully return and we get confirmation that Anthony Davis’ injury today is nothing serious.
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