What a fitting ending to such a silly season for the Los Angeles Lakers. After trailing by as much as 29 points in the first half, the Lakers clawed their way back in the second half only to lose to the Phoenix Suns, 113-100, and get eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.
To be fair to the Lakers, expectations couldn’t have been lower for Thursday’s game. Just two days prior, the Suns convincingly beat the Lakers 115-85 with Anthony Davis sidelined. And while Davis technically made his return on Thursday, it was brief.
From the moment that Davis stepped out onto the floor, it was clear that he wasn’t ready to play. He was able to jog gingerly up-and-down the court, but he couldn’t do much beyond that. After five minutes, his night was over.
With Davis out, the Lakers’ hopes rested on the broad shoulders of LeBron James and the will of the supporting cast. Unfortunately, that will wasn’t there in the first half.
Much like they did in Game 5, the Suns got whatever they wanted against the Lakers in the first quarter and got out to a massive lead. The Lakers didn’t have an answer for them.
The Lakers showed much more competitive spirit half, which was supercharged by Frank Vogel’s decision to play LeBron James at center, but it was ultimately too little, too late for the reigning champions. They’re the first reigning champions to be knocked out in the first round of the NBA Playoffs since the 2014-15 San Antonio Spurs.
This obviously isn’t how the Lakers or their fans wanted the season to go, but in hindsight, it makes sense that it did. From everything to the shortened offseason to the injuries they dealt with throughout the season, it was going to take a lot for Los Angeles to repeat.
The good news is that LeBron James and Anthony Davis will now get some-much needed rest in the offseason, and hopefully come back stronger for what will ideally be a semi-normal 2021-22 campaign.