99-90: Suns drown Lakers with masterful Devin Booker
The Phoenix Suns took advantage this Sunday in their series against the Los Angeles Lakers (99-90) thanks to a masterful Devin Booker and others that drowned the reigning NBA champions.
Booker, who had not played a playoff game until today, made a memorable debut in the playoffs with 34 points (13 of 26 shooting), 7 rebounds and 8 assists.
The young guard tormented the Lakers time and time again, came out of all the traps and defensive aids that the visitors set him, and was a tireless agitator of the Suns offense.
At his side, center Deandre Ayton also stood out, who with 21 points and 16 rebounds (8 offensive) emerged triumphant from his fearsome confrontation in the paint against Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond.
On the part of some Lakers with little brightness, LeBron James stood out with 18 points (6 of 13 in shots), 7 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Angelenos seemed to have a march less than their rivals and presented a painful hit from the triple (27% with 7 of 26 shooting).
Marc Gasol did not play a minute for the Lakers.
The Suns, who had not played in the NBA playoffs since 2010, were second in the Western Conference (51-21) and that led them to face the Lakers, who defend the ring obtained in the “bubble” and who achieved their ticket for the playoffs after landing a disappointing seventh place in the West (42-30) and eliminating Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors in the play-in.
The series between the renewed Suns and the experienced Lakers also has the incentive of the confrontation between LeBron James and Chris Paul, two of the most important players in the NBA in the 21st century, who are also very close friends and who had never met before. measured in the playoffs.
A SWIMMING START
The staging was vibrant and worthy of the great duels.
With a constant give and take and without stopping for a second, the Suns spared no effort and turned the game up from the start with Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton leading the stampede.
The Lakers were not far behind and Dennis Schroder in the direction and LeBron James from the perimeter with two triples in a row equaled a frantic and very exciting start (15-15 after five minutes).
The local team seemed determined to end the Lakers by exhaustion and Ayton, the lord and master of the area, put the rubric with 10 points to a great first quarter of the Suns (32-25).
The statistics perfectly reflected the overwhelming basketball of the Phoenix team: they made 58% of their shots from the field, dominated the rebound (15 by 9 for the Lakers) and scored 10 points on counterattack against none of their rivals.
Two court workers like Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso took to the court to balance the Suns’ electricity, but 4 points in a row from Dario Saric gave Arizona their first major difference (38-27 after two minutes ).
At that moment came the most chilling moment of the meeting.
Paul retired injured in the shoulder with enormous gestures of pain and surrounded by players from both teams, but fortunately he was able to return to the court soon after.
The Suns seemed to be touched by the temporary absence of his brain and Montrezl Harrell pulled muscle and claw to reactivate the Lakers and bring them closer on the scoreboard.
However, Booker, a constant nightmare for the Lakers defense, masterfully held the Suns before the break (53-45).
At the resumption, the Lakers insisted once again on populating the area with Drummond and Anthony Davis, but Booker was in charge of confirming that the short and agile Suns quintet was unrivaled (65-53 with eight minutes left).
Very uncomfortable, the Lakers could not find their rhythm in either of the two baskets, while the Suns successfully exploited the surprising deficiencies of the Angelenos to defend the block and continuation.
In one of the countless transitions of the Suns, Mikal Bridges served his team in the middle of the third quarter the biggest advantage so far (71-56) after a new loose ball from the Lakers.
But then the pride of the purple and gold appeared.
With the penetrations of Schroder and the anger of James, the Lakers got a partial of 0-8 not to say goodbye to the meeting (71-64).
The Suns didn’t lose their nerve and, with life insurance on free throws like Booker, stayed ahead before the fourth quarter (81-68).
The guard did not put the brakes on and added 5 more points as soon as the final quarter started, but James threw the Lakers on his back to keep his team alive (86-77 after three minutes).
The tension rose even further when the Suns’ Cameron Payne was sent off after a brawl with Caruso and Harrell.
Paul was still playing with obvious shoulder problems, but was still able to score a basket on Kyle Kuzma.
In the end, the Lakers didn’t find the spark to orchestrate a last-minute comeback, and the Suns clinched a valuable victory with Ayton’s offensive rebounds and Booker’s all-round poise.
The Suns and Lakers will meet on Tuesday in the second game of the tie, which will also be played in Phoenix (USA).
Anthony Davis says Lakers’ loss to Suns in Game 1 is his fault
Anthony Davis sounded the alarm after the defeat of Los Angeles Lakers with slate 99-90 against the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the first round of Playoffs: It’s time for Davis raise their level.
“There’s no way we’re going to win a game, let alone a series, if I play the way I did,” Davis said after finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocks against the Suns. “What I mean is that this (loss in Game 1) is my responsibility.
“We will improve in Game 2,” he added.
Davis missed 11 of his 16 field goal attempts and the Lakers were outscored by 18 points in his 39 minutes on the floor, giving him the team’s worst plus-minus.
Davis noted that the solid start of Los Angeles, who had their biggest advantage in the game when they led 15-10 after playing 4:30 minutes in the first period, diminished the urgency in their personal performance.
“He regularly started very dominant and today (Sunday), we started with rhythm, so I kind of lost on offense, but I still have to be assertive and find ways to get the ball,” Davis said. “Like the good start got me off the pace, but that’s my responsibility. I have to find ways to make offensive plays. Like I said, it’s my fault.
“I don’t care much about my performance. I know that I will improve, I know that we will play better in Game 2, ”he added.
LeBron James said the cause of the loss “is never the responsibility of a player,” but acknowledged that Davis has taken his blame.
“I love it when AD puts pressure on himself,” said James, who led the Lakers with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. “We are a better team when he is aggressive, we are a better team when he demands the ball, but everyone we also have to do things much better ”.
Davis proved his ability to bounce back en route to last year’s championship. In the three games he played in the 2020 Postseason after a game in which he hit less than 50 percent of his shots at the rim, Davis averaged 31.7 points on 27 percent of his shots and in those games, Los Angeles finished 2-1.
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“Every time (AD) faces pressure and tells you we can’t win when he plays badly, he always responds, so we look forward to that and when AD is AD again, we will be the Lakers,” added James.
Davis was outbid by former teammate and first overall collegiate pick DeAndre Dayton. In the battle of inverted initials (AD vs. DA), the Suns center finished with 21 points when he hit 10 of 11 shots, 16 rebounds and had a plus 16 in 37 minutes in his Playoff debut.
Davis ‘performance in Game 1 against the Suns was a far cry from what he had in the last regular-season game against Phoenix just two weeks ago, when he added 42 points and 12 rebounds in the Lakers’ 123-110 victory.
“Phoenix paid a lot more attention to him, obviously, for that game,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel explained. “They did a great job. You have to give them credit. They limited his touches (of the ball) and doubled when he had it, which made things difficult for him, but there are ways in which we can be better and take advantage of it ”.
To reinforce Vogel’s point, Los Langeles made two of six shots (including one on five 3-pointers) on Davis passes in Game 1 against Phoenix, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. In all, the Lakers hit just seven of 26 triples (26.9 percent) and 17 of 28 on free throws (60.7 percent).
It will also be up to other players and not just Davis to improve to avoid going down 0-2 in the series in Tuesday’s game.
“I think, offensively, we did not do many things that we want to do with Phoenix having a week to prepare to play against us,” Vogel said in relation to the mini-tournament in which the Lakers had to secure the seventh seed, while the Suns waited for a rival. .
“Credit to them for doing a great job. We just have to execute a little better on offense ”, concluded the coach.