The Lakers fall to the Suns, 115-105, after yet another tremendous Devin Booker performance. He had 25 points on the night before fouling out with just over a minute remaining, but the Suns didn’t need that last minute from him to extend their winning streak over the Lakers to eight games.
With LeBron James ruled out, Darvin Ham opted to go with the same starting five that’s won the last three games. With Phoenix at home and with the second-best record in the West, many thought this would be an easy win for the Suns. In the first quarter, the Lakers quieted that noise. They were trailing by just four after one, with Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Lonnie Walker IV playing well in the quarter. The rebounding battle was all tied up at 14, and if it wasn’t for Booker getting hot in the middle of the frame and a couple of Mikal Bridges threes, the Lakers might’ve had the lead.
But they didn’t, and found themselves in familiar territory, down entering the second. Would they play like they have during the three-game winning streak, or fold now that they are playing a winning team? It was more of the former. The mostly bench unit of Gabriel, Westbrook, Walker, Thomas Bryant and Austin Reaves held their own while Anthony Davis got some much-needed rest. AD returned at the 5:08 mark and continued to be productive, scoring 7 points in the quarter. He did have a scare when his left arm/wrist collided with Devin Booker, but after a timeout, he returned and seemed okay.
Do you know who was more than okay? Lonnie Walker IV and Russell Westbrook. Walker was dunking the basketball, finishing layups near the rim, and had 6 points on six shots at the half. Russ’ Sixth Man of the Year campaign was alive and well in the first half, producing 7 points and 3 assists in his 14 minutes. Thanks to this team effort, the Lakers ended the quarter on an 18-6 run and took the lead into the half up 55-53.
Unfortunately for Los Angeles, as has been typical for them, the third quarter started off rough. Phoenix came out on a 10-2 run led by Booker, who was just too much for Reaves or any Laker to cover.
With Davis still noticeably bothered by his left arm injury, the rest of the team struggled to score. It wasn’t until midway through the third when Walker started heating up again, and an aggressive AD kept getting to the line and finishing strong in the paint. Down by as many as ten in the third, the Lakers came roaring back. However, the NBA is a game of runs and the Suns countered and ended the third strongly. Phoenix took the quarter and entered the fourth up 86-79.
In the final quarter, the Lakers could never close the gap. Phoenix extended their lead by as much as 12 points, and, to the Lakers’ credit, they never folded. They got as close as six midway through the period, but the most impactful thing that occurred in the quarter was Patrick Beverly’s ejection (and, possibly, his looming suspension). He body-checked Deandre Ayton, who received a tech for his taunt at Austin Reaves, who was harshly fouled by Devin Booker, who also received a flagrant one in this exchange. The benches didn’t clear, but there was a lot of pushing and shoving from players on both sides. It wasn’t the first — and was likely not the last — time Phoenix has been or will be involved in a situation like this during the season.
Tempers flare in Lakers-Suns pic.twitter.com/XZbkf4pWmN— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 23, 2022
The flagrant calls helped keep the Lakers in the game for a few minutes longer, but it only delayed the inevitable. Despite another phenomenal game by Anthony Davis, the Lakers couldn’t win in Phoenix once again.
With his 36 points, 21 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 blocks, Anthony Davis becomes the 4th player to have at least those stats along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Bob McAdoo— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) November 23, 2022
Anthony Davis is good at basketball. He is flirting with career numbers in points and rebounds and is finally showing the grit and availability the Lakers desperately needed from him the past two seasons. He will not play all 82 like he dreamed of when the season started, but he’s played 15 of the 16 games and it’s hard to imagine asking more of him. Not much has been positive for the Lakers this season, but AD has been a franchise player.
Next up for the Lakers is a back-to-back matchup against the Spurs starting on Friday. The injury report will be something for all of Lakers Nation to monitor, as hopefully LeBron James can return and we get confirmation that Anthony Davis’ injury today is nothing major.