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Lakers vs. Suns Game Preview: Team tank rolls into Phoenix

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All aboard, at least for one night.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are wrapping up a short road trip with a stop on the way back from Dallas in Phoenix. What you may not have noticed, though, is the subtle change in the way they’re making this little trek. They’ve officially dusted off the purple and gold tanks, even if they never meant to, and they’re rolling into Phoenix.

The Lakers aren’t actively tanking, or so we’ve been led to believe even after they traded their top scorer for a low-end first-round draft pick, but if there’s a game they can go ahead and just lose, it’s this one. The Suns are suddenly finding their way to victories, winning three of their last four games, and have moved out of the bottom of the West.

That (dis)honor now belongs to the Lakers, who’ve stumbled down a well without a rope, ladder or daylight in sight. They’re riding an eight-game losing streak, now sitting at 19-45 on the season.

Tanking isn’t a thing players are actively going to do in a basketball game, especially young ones who are just trying to improve each time they step on the court. However, with a top-three protected pick once again hanging in the balance, if the Lakers are going to lose 70 percent of their games, they might as well lose the ones that really matter.

So, here’s to a spirited effort, a fun showdown featuring D’Angelo Russell and Devin Booker, and moving the needle closer to retaining the lottery draft pick.

Again.

Enjoy the game. Hopefully you’ll be able to see it around the tanks gathered in Phoenix.

Time: 7:30 p.m. PT

TV: TNT