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Lakers vs. Suns Preview: A temperature check

While the past three games have injected life into this Lakers team, Tuesday’s game against a really good Suns team will be a temperature check to test if they can compete against a high-caliber opponent.

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San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers are on a three-game winning streak. This isn’t a drill, the purple and gold are currently playing their best basketball so far this season. After an embarrassing home loss to the Sacramento Kings two weeks ago, the Lakers have built much-needed momentum and are in good spirits as they head to the road where they play 16 of their next 22 games.

Of course, it would disingenuous not to bring up Anthony Davis, who’s playing at an MVP level as of late, as a huge reason why the Lakers are on a winning streak right now. In the past three games, AD is averaging 35 points on 61.7% shooting along with 17.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks. He’s just been on a tear and has certainly carried the team in the past week. Sure, the Lakers have faced below-average opponents in the past week, but what’s important is that Davis has found his rhythm and is in tremendous shape, which is vital for this team moving forward.

Aside from Davis, the Lakers once again got huge contributions from Austin Reaves (who had 21 points), Lonnie Walker IV (14 points), and Russell Westbrook (10 points and 10 assists) for the third straight game in a row. It seems the addition of Thomas Bryant (who had 15 points) in the lineup has been a huge boost, just because his chemistry with Westbrook is as impressive as the latter’s connection with Wenyen Gabriel. Slowly but surely, this Lakers team is figuring out how to be competitive every night and play to their identity.

So while these past three games have injected life into this Lakers team, it’s now up to them to keep it up and string more victories together. Their next test will be against their division rivals the Phoenix Suns, who are playing really good basketball right now. It’s a temperature check for the Lakers to see how this version of the team performs against a high-caliber opponent (who also happen to be the second-best team in the Western Conference) who despite missing two starters, have the league’s third-best offense (116.7) and seventh-best defense (109.7).

The Suns are a machine, that operates with a special identity and cohesiveness that they’ve built over the past three seasons. Led by Devin Booker, who anchors the team’s offense, they love to share the basketball (they rank fifth best in assists per game), run pick-and-rolls, and convert their 3-point attempts at a high rate. It will be interesting to observe if the Lakers’ defense keeps up with their pristine offense, and if AD and the crew can continue to wreak havoc in Arizona on Tuesday.

Notes and Updates

  • Before I get to the injury report, here’s a fun and not-so-fun fact. I’ll start with the fun by saying that the Lakers’ 31-point victory against the Spurs on Sunday was the largest lead they had in the past two seasons. Meanwhile, on the flip side, they haven’t beaten the Suns since Game 3 of the first round of the 2021 Playoffs (that was May 28, 2021).
  • The Lakers’ injury report remains similar to their last few games. Anthony Davis (low back tightness) is probable, while LeBron James (left adductor strain) and Juan Toscano-Anderson (mid-back soreness) are questionable.

Update: LeBron is out once again tonight.

  • Max Christie is still out in health and safety protocols, and Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider are still on assignment with the South Bay Lakers.
  • For news around the league or in this case, the world — our old friend Dwight Howard has been killing it in the T1 League in Taiwan with his new team the Taoyuan Leopards. If you want to check out his highlights and stay up to date with the Lakers champ, you can do so here.

The Lakers and Suns will tip off at 7 p.m. PT on Tuesday. The game will only be televised nationally on TNT.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani.

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