Los Angeles outscored Phoenix 28-11 in the fourth to come from behind and win their home opener 100-95.
Anthony Davis had a solid bounce-back game scoring 30 points along with 12 rebounds and LeBron James played 35 minutes, including the final 15 of the game, and effectively closed out the win with back-to-back layups in the final minute.
It was an ugly win for the Lakers as they shot 17.2% as a team from three and were outrebounded 49-43 but a win is a win and good teams find ways to be victorious even when they’re not the best version of themselves.
L.A. started the game on a 7-0 run featuring a healthy dose of Davis and D'Angelo Russell, two players who noticeably struggled in the season opener against Denver. Unfortunately for the purple and gold, the rest of the opening quarter was all Suns.
According to @cleantheglass, Phoenix has rebounded 42.9% of their own misses so far.— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) October 27, 2023
Phoenix, missing two of their stars, did all the dirty work to out-perform Los Angeles. The Suns dominated the boards, outrebounding L.A. 17-10 in the first quarter and with LeBron James scoring zero points, they found themselves up by 12.
L.A. opted for a bench trio paired with Russell and James to start the second and James finally got on the scoreboard on the Lakers' first points of the quarter. Russell continued to lead the charge offensively while embracing his defensive assignments and after a Davis trey, the Lakers took the lead and control of the game until Kevin Durant was subbed back in.
Phoenix went a perfect 5-5 from the field upon Durant's return and held onto a four-point edge heading into the break.
In preseason, Durant said Austin Reaves was “too small” to guard him and while the Lakers threw a lot of different players at Durant tonight, it didn’t slow him down. Durant went nuclear in the closing minutes of the third to extend the Suns' lead to 12 and ended the quarter as the game’s leading scorer with 30 points.
After an 8-0 L.A. run with Durant resting on the bench, the Lakers got within two points. However, as soon as KD entered, he hit a three on his first offensive possession to keep the Lakers at bay.
L.A. couldn’t buy a three so they relied on their stars to attack the paint. Davis hit a runner in the paint to tie the game at the 4:16 mark and after James splits a double team to get to the rim, L.A. had their first lead of the half.
LEBRON JAMES. YEAR 21.— NBA (@NBA) October 27, 2023
GET TO TNT FOR THE END! pic.twitter.com/DQnxUMdxcU
Suddenly, it was Phoenix’s offense that stalled as the Suns only managed three points in the first 10 minutes of the quarter. The game was even at 91 as James did what he does best and took over.
He scored back-to-back baskets at the rim to give L.A. a four-point lead and put away the Suns for good. Durant took one more shot but Davis and Reaves doubled him and after he missed the mid-range fadeaway, Davis grabbed the board and Reaves and AD iced the game at the charity stripe.
The Lakers won, but even so, it wasn't a good win.
It’s just game two and facing two title favorites in back-to-back games is tough, but the Lakers already have a laundry list of things to address. They have to shoot better from three, win the rebounding battle and does James have to play 35 minutes for the Lakers to win? Things won’t get easier for L.A. as they play the young and talented Sacramento Kings on Sunday at 6 p.m. PT on the road.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.