Phoenix Suns showed determination in Game 2 rally

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports) /

With Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul injured and not able to contribute anywhere close to the level he has all season, to be right there with the Lakers until the end was a pretty good sign for Phoenix.

The Phoenix Suns held on Tuesday night well enough to keep things interesting all the way to the end of their 109-102 Game 2 loss to the Lakers.

The 13 turnovers, many of which came early, really hurt the Suns and put them in the position of playing from behind all night, and that is always harder to do. Especially when your leader, Chris Paul, is limited to 23 minutes of action.

CP3 is a gamer, and he tried to go, and to be there for his teammates, but his shoulder just wasn’t allowing it. Even though he couldn’t be on the floor for his normal minutes, Paul was like an additional coach on the sideline, trying to help lead his young team over the hump. It just wasn’t to be.

We have to give credit to the Lakers, they withstood all of Phoenix’s runs. Anthony Davis’s poor performance in Game 1 seemed to wake the sleeping giant, and he was aggressive from the first tip, finishing with 34 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. He lived at the free-throw line in game two going 18-21 from the charity stripe. That stat was indicative of his more aggressive style of play in game two; a style that landed the Suns in early foul trouble.

With Paul playing so few minutes, Cameron Payne stepped up big time and adding 19 points and seven assists, but what the Suns missed more than anything else was Paul’s leadership and experience–his uncanny ability to close games.

Devin Booker added 31 points but wasn’t as aggressive as he probably needed to be until the fourth quarter. If Paul can’t go in Game 3, Book is going to have to have to look to score the entire game.

As the fourth quarter wound down, the Suns just had too many defensive breakdowns to overcome. Like the bungled defensive switch with 2:15 to go that left a hot AD with a wide-open 3.

Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton was late on a key defensive rotation

As great as he was playing, Deandre Ayton looked lost on the switch and was nowhere near as aggressive as he needed to be on getting out and challenging AD and making it a much more difficult look.

Of course, as he so often does, LeBron James made some really tough shots in the fourth, like the fade-away jumper on the baseline that Cam Johnson couldn’t have defended any better. James finished with 23 points, on 9-16 shooting, including 4-9 from beyond the arc, including a big one in the fourth quarter.

To win in the NBA playoffs your best players have to make big plays down the stretch, and the Lakers certainly got that from James and AD. They made big shots in timely spots, and it was enough to even the series at 1 as it heads back to Los Angeles.

I am not sure how long Chris Paul is going to take to recover from his shoulder injury. Honestly, the Suns need it to happen quickly if they are going to have a real chance of unseating the reigning champs.

Having Chris Paul on the floor affects every part of the Sun’s game. His leadership down the stretch of games is crucial. Without it, I am just not quite sure that the Suns have enough experience to get the job done.

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