Call it a scheduling quirk, but the Los Angeles Lakers are set to play the Phoenix Suns for the third time this season, and second time this week. Unlike the first two match-ups, this one will be at Staples Center.
The Lakers won both of the first two meetings which took place in Phoenix and will look to make it three straight. After an entertaining, but disappointing loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, the Lakers will try and get back on the winning track.
After a decent run following the removal of head coach Earl Watson, the Suns have come back down to earth, losing seven of their last eight games. Last night may have been a new low as they allowed 90 points in the first half of their home loss to the Houston Rockets.
Now on the second night of a back-to-back, the Suns hope to finally get a win over their Pacific Division rivals while the Lakers look for their first win on their four-game homestand.
Everything with the Phoenix Suns starts with third-year guard Devin Booker. One of the NBA’s best young guards, Booker can score from anywhere on the floor and is unguardable when he gets hot. The Lakers know first hand how dangerous he is as he dropped 36 points in Monday’s matchup between these teams.
Next to him is Tyler Ulis, one of the shortest players in the NBA. While not much of a scorer, Ulis is a smart playmaker who can create shots for others. He splits point guard duties with rookie Mike James who is more of an offensive threat. The always dangerous Troy Daniels is also a well-known shooter who will see some minutes off the bench.
All of the news surrounding the Lakers continues to focus on rookie Lonzo Ball. His starting spot is not in question, and he has even got a new haircut before this contest. Shooting continues to be a major question for Ball, but his rebounding, playmaking, and underrated defense have been positives.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been something of an enigma next to Ball. His defense has been excellent, but he has been a mixed bag on offense. His shooting has been streaky and he can force some bad shots at times, which is something that will have to be fixed.
Jordan Clarkson remains the Lakers’ most consistent offensive option even as a reserve. He is posting career high shooting percentages and has been excellent getting to the rim. Corey Brewer will see some time as well and his best performances have come against the Suns as he has bothered Booker defensively.
Recently acquired Greg Monroe, who came over in the Eric Bledsoe trade, is the Suns starting center with Tyson Chandler out due to injury. Monroe is the exact opposite of Chandler as he is a much better offensive weapon, but doesn’t bring the defense and athleticism that Chandler is known for.
T.J. Warren has been the Suns’ other top offensive weapon as he has mastered the art of scoring inside the arc. He has a ton of moves and is difficult to stop. Next to him is Marquese Chriss, an excellent athlete who has all the tools of a stretch-4, but has yet to put everything together in year no. 2.
Dragan Bender is finally starting to look more comfortable, and he had a career-high night against the Lakers just days ago. Rookie Josh Jackson brings defense and energy but is a non-factor offensively while Alex Len is a big body who attacks the glass.
The forward pairing of Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma was excellent against the Sixers on Wednesday. Each player posted career-highs in scoring and are really looking more aggressive overall. Ingram has made a huge leap from a year ago and Kuzma could find himself in rookie of the year conversations if he keeps this up.
Manning the middle is still Brook Lopez. He has been pretty consistent, though relatively unspectacular on offense, but his rim protection and shot blocking have been as good as advertised.
Julius Randle remains one of the best reserve bigs in the NBA as he is either too strong or too quick for most big men. His defense has also greatly improved and his ability to switch on guards is invaluable.
Recently, Luke Walton has turned to Andrew Bogut off the bench and the veteran has responded with back-to-back strong showings. His defense, rebounding, and toughness has been something the Lakers have been lacking.
Three Keys to Lakers Victory:
Aggression: Some of the Lakers’ young players have been at their best when aggressively attacking the defense, but are inconsistent with when they do so. Coming off Wednesday’s performance, Ball will need to get back to attacking the basket. Likewise, Ingram must maintain his mindset from from Wednesday as he is almost unstoppable when driving to the rim strong.
Turnovers: Both teams have issues taking care of the ball and the Lakers especially, have had problems with ball security. The Lakers must win the turnover battle as it will create easy baskets for themselves and allow their defense to set up against a team they have defended well this year.
Three-Pointers: Once again, neither team has been a great three-point shooting team and Luke Walton has made some new mandates in practice for his shooters. The Lakers one of their best shooting games on Monday and replicating that would go a long way in getting a victory.
strong>Los Angeles Lakers (6-9) Vs. Phoenix Suns (5-11)
7:30 P.M. PST, November 17, 2017
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Corey Brewer, Andrew Bogut
Projected Suns Starting Lineup:
PG: Tyler Ulis
SG: Devin Booker
SF: T.J. Warren
PF: Marquese Chriss
C: Greg Monroe
Key Reserves: Josh Jackson, Mike James, Dragan Bender, Alex Len, Troy Daniels
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB