Despite a completely transformed roster, the Lakers’ first trip back to Arizona since losing in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs did not fare much better. The defending Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns defeated the Lakers, 117-105, in a contest moved up four hours to accommodate the Phoenix Mercury’s WNBA playoff game later Wednesday night.
The Lakers struggled mightily with both their outside shotmaking and interior rebounding, especially in the first half:
LAL trail 62-45 at the half, after being outrebounded 33-19 in the first half. They shot 37.2% from the field, including 5 of 16 from 3, and went 8 for 12 from the FT line.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 6, 2021
Davis had 12 points, 6 boards and 2 assists on 4 of 11 FG’s.
In his first live game action in purple and gold, Carmelo Anthony went 4-10 from the field with 8 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 17 minutes. Anthony Davis struggled to find his footing, scoring 14 points on 5-14 shooting along with 8 rebounds and 2 assists in 25 minutes.
For the second time in as many games, Malik Monk became the silver lining for the Lakers, once again strengthening his case for a starting role alongside Russell Westbrook in L.A.’s backcourt. The former Charlotte Hornets guard provided some instant offense whenever he subbed into the game, finishing with a team-high 18 points on 7-11 shooting and 4-7 from deep.
As always, it is a fool’s errand to read too much into preseason results and this is especially true when considering who sat for the Lakers and who didn’t sit for the Suns.
Several notable names were absent for the Lakers once again, as Westbrook and LeBron James sat out for the second straight game to start the preseason. They were joined by Dwight Howard, who did play on Sunday against the Nets, and Trevor Ariza, who has missed nearly a week of practice and game time due to an injury.
The Suns, on the other hand, played four of the five starters that led them to the NBA Finals just a few months ago. The one exception was Devin Booker, who is currently in COVID-19 protocols.
The Lakers will head up north to play the Golden State Warriors on Friday before returning home to face the Suns on Sunday.