The Suns are far from the most competitive team the Lakers will see this season. In fact, the Suns are the first team the Lakers have faced that didn’t make the playoffs last season.
However, as the Lakers continue to figure out what works and what doesn’t, wins against teams like the Suns are going to be important. On Wednesday, they got an idea of what might work going forward.
Josh Hart was inserted into the starting lineup in favor of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope after an impressive three games to start the season and he didn’t disappoint. In 26 minutes on the floor, Hart put up 15 points on 5-8 shooting from the field, including 4-6 shooting from behind the 3-point line.
His perimeter defense has yet to return to form, but his offensive output has made up for it so far. However, unlike most nights this season, the Lakers’ other guards showed signs of life, especially Lance Stephenson.
In 25 minutes off the bench, Stephenson scored 23 points, the team-high, on an efficient 10-14 shooting from the field. This marks the first time Stephenson has scored in double figures this season, and is also the first time since March 17 that he’s scored over 20 points.
Stephenson can be frustrating on some nights, but his ability to create his own shot was valuable for the Lakers on Monday. Hopefully this is a sign of Stephenson settling into his role with the second unit.
Not too far behind Stephenson for team scoring honors was JaVale McGee, who scored 20 points, including a made three-pointer.
Last, but certainly not least, James built on his impressive performance in San Antonio with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double.
It was only the Phoenix Suns, but it was a confidence boost for a Lakers team that needed it desperately. They’ll be back at it tomorrow against the Denver Nuggets, who are undefeated through four games.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.