What was supposed to be a team preparing for a championship run continues to slide as the Phoenix Suns fall to the Lakers 122-111 in Los Angeles.
Having lost four of their previous five games heading into Los Angeles, the Suns needed a win over the Lebron James-less Lakers. Instead, on a night when Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton were out, Devin Booker’s one-man-show was not enough to overcome the Lakers, who had three players hit for more than 20 points.
Booker, again, the big gun for the Suns
If there was a player of the game for Phoenix, it was again DBook, who finished the night with 33 points to lead all scorers. Booker was efficient as always, shooting almost 69% from the field, hitting 11 of 16 shots. Book also managed to get to the free-throw line 12 times, making 10.
Booker filled the box score if you consider his five assists and six rebounds with those points. Unfortunately, he also had a team-high seven turnovers on a night when Phoenix had 17 as a team leading to 27 points for LA.
Not all seven turnovers are all on Booker, who was double-teamed off and on all evening and did try to force some plays, which you understand when he seemingly has no one stepping up to help him carry the load.
Line-up bingo still not working for Phoenix
Depending on your perspective, it was a good game for the Suns’ bench, who outscored the Lakers bench 35 to 25. However, considering the Suns’ bench played 24 more minutes than the Lakers, it was not all that impressive, with only Landry Shamet hitting double figures, scoring 15.
Ultimately, the Suns’ biggest problem was finding consistent rhythm and offense when Booker was off the ball. While DBook played 40 minutes and Chris Paul played 30, no other Suns player hit the 30-minute mark, with 11 players checking into the game for Phoenix and 10 of them playing at least 12 minutes.
As the lineups ebbed and flowed, the offense sputtered, and more importantly, the defense disappeared as the Suns could not get any stops, either conceding buckets or committing fouls. Arguably Phoenix’s best on-ball defender – Josh Okogie – did not even step on the floor in the fourth quarter, despite the team’s inability to stop dribble penetration, leading to fouls and wide-open threes.
Yes, the free throws were still a disparity, as the Lakers shot 46 to the Suns’ 20 attempts. However, when you take 14 more three-pointers, you attack the bucket less. And the only other Suns player effective at getting to the line besides Booker is Okogie, who was five of six at the line but didn’t play in the fourth quarter when the Lakers closed out the win.
Despite the loss, Phoenix remains in fourth place in the Western Conference by a half-game over the Los Angeles Clippers but is only two-and-half games ahead of the tenth-place Lakers. With back-to-back games against Sacramento and Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday, Williams and the Suns need to figure things out, or the Suns will go from home-court advantage to the play-in tournament.