The Lakers tried to avoid another slow start on Sunday by setting the tone on the defensive end from the moment the ball was tipped off, and they were successful in that regard in the half court. In transition, however, they couldn’t keep up with the Suns and Phoenix exploited that throughout the game.
They looked better in transition with Anthony Davis at center, but for some reason Frank Vogel went to that less on Sunday than he even did during Wednesday’s play-in. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that Andre Drummond was having some success against DeAndre Ayton in spurts, but I’d argue the benefits of having Davis at center outweighed whatever benefits came with Drummond playing more minutes on Sunday. The same can be said about Montrezl Harrell and his contributions on the offensive end.
Drummond and Harrell weren’t alone in their struggles, though. Anthony Davis had one of his worst games in a Lakers uniform. At times, it was easy to forget that he was on the floor. He made a few big plays on defense, but on offense, nothing could get him going. The opposite was true for Devin Booker (34 points) and Ayton (21 points and 16 rebounds), who looked like they two best players on the floor on Sunday.
The takeaway from Sunday’s game could be that Vogel needs to make changes, or that Davis needs to be better, and both of those things are true. However, it’s actually far simpler than that: the Lakers as a whole just need to be better, because the Suns are a good team and good teams make you pay for your mistakes. The Lakers paid for theirs on Sunday; we’ll see what they can do on Tuesday in Game 2.