The Lakers struggled in many of the same areas on Thursday as they have all series, and that was especially true when it came to the seemingly Herculean task of guarding DeAndre Ayton. Ayton, in his third game against the Lakers, scored 22 points on 11-15 shooting from the field. For the series, he’s shooting 82.1% from the field.
The Lakers also struggled to knock down their 3-point attempts once again, going 6-27 from behind the arc. Wesley Matthews led all Lakers in 3-point makes with two (huge) makes in four attempts.
Fortunately, they were able to compensate for most of those mistakes with their defense. Their defensive effort was there from the moment the ball was tipped, but they flipped the switch in the third quarter and broke the game open.
To the Suns’ credit, they played stout defense as well, but they had to defend LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who, at their best, are unguardable. And while it’s arguable whether or not they were physically at their best on Thursday night, they were definitely really, really unguardable.
Davis’ aggression from Game 2 carried over into Game 3 and it may have even multiplied. In 40 minutes, Davis scored 34 points on 11-22 shooting from the field and a good amount of his attempts came at the rim. Lakers fans wanted aggressive AD, and they got him.
They also got the best version of James that we’ve seen since he made his return from injury earlier this month. After struggling in the first half, James came out with better energy in the second half and ended the game with 21 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds. Maybe James is feeling healthier, or maybe he just wanted to send a message to Jae Crowder, who was in his ear all game. Whatever it was, it worked for him and the Lakers.
The Lakers are the first team to win a home playoff game at Staples Center this season— SB Nation (@SBNation) May 28, 2021
Everyone else is 0-2 pic.twitter.com/sH73rY4iir
The Lakers will play one more game at home before going back on the road for Game 5. However, despite the fact that they’re going to play at home in Game 4, they’ll get two “travel days” to recuperate, so their next game will be on Sunday.