The Los Angeles Lakers came home from their road trip only winning one of the four games, but they were competitive in each game. The Lakers won their last game of their four-game outing the versus the Atlanta Hawks and carried the energy from their victory against back home to face the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers are coming off the biggest win of this young season, a 20-point victory against the Warriors. The Lakers had significant contributions from Lou Williams, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. to pull off the upset win.
Next, the Lakers have the Phoneix Suns. The Suns just squeaked out an 112-111 victory against New Orleans Pelicans. Phoenix started off the season with four losses, but have won their last two games and hope to continue their winning streak against the Lakers.
The Suns have a three-headed monster coming out their backcourt. Eric Bledsoe is an explosive guard who gets to the rim whenever he wants. Also, Bledsoe is a terror on the defensive side of the ball. The second head of the monster is Brandon Knight. Last year Knight had a triple-double against the Lakers with 30 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds. The last head on the monster is Devin Booker. Booker was the 13th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Booker, who is close friends with D’Angelo Russell, is a scorer at heart. Booker is currently averaging 19.8 points per game this season and just lit up the Pelicans for a career-high 38 points.
The Lakers have some backcourt weapons themselves. The Lakers have seen great fourth quarters from Lou Williams. The veteran has been an essential presence in crunch time for the Lakers and looks to continue to deliver in the clutch versus the Suns. Jordan Clarkson is another weapon for the Lakers. Clarkson has played well this season and turned on the jets when the Lakers need him to play well. The second-year guard has shown he is competent on both sides of the ball. D’Angelo Russell could be the Lakers’ biggest weapon. Russell has proven to everyone that he is a leader on this team by either making big shots or encouraging teammates on and off the court. Look for Russell to have a big night against the Suns, because of their fast pace and he will want to play excellent against his friend Devin Booker.
The Suns are second in the NBA rebounding, and they are doing it while playing Jared Dudley at power forward. While the bulk of the production comes from their backcourt, they still are getting vital minutes out of Tyson Chandler and T.J. Warren. Chandler is averaging 7.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, good for third in the NBA. Warren is leading the team in points with 21.7 points per contest.
The Lakers might have flashier players in the backcourt, but still, have key players in the frontcourt. Julius Randle was a double-double machine last year and has improved other assets of his game this year. Randle has taken on the “Draymond Green” role for this team. Randle has had three big blocks in the fourth quarter of each of the Lakers wins. Also, he has played the facilitator role and thrived at that. Lastly, Larry Nance Jr. has shown to be an excellent player off the bench. Nance Jr. seems to be in every passing lane, makes the right plays on offense, and every once in a while puts a player on a poster with his powerful dunks.
Keys to Victory:
This year’s Laker squad has very low expectations. Every article written about this team talks about how wins are not important and that they need to just develop their young guys; having said that, the Lakers just beat the Golden State Warriors by 20 points and are feeling pretty good about themselves. Luke Walton said, “I think we’re are going to come out a little flat. It’s natural after that type of win. I’m hopeful it doesn’t happen.” (via Mark Medina). The Lakers need to stay focused on the task at hand to beat the Suns.
Keep the three-headed monster in check:
Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Devin Booker are three players that can beat you on any given night. The Lakers need to keep all three of players from dominating this game.
Play Strong Defense:
The Lakers might haven given up a lot of points this season, but they have shown the can shut down very good offensive teams when the focus in on them. If the Lakers can play good defense on crucial stretches, they will win this game.
Avoid the Big Win Hangover:
Corey Hansford wrote yesterday that according to Tania Ganguli of the LA Times, Walton put the Lakers through a long practice as he is worried about the team coming out flat against Phoenix. They must avoid the big win hangover and take care of business.
Los Angeles Lakers (3-3) Vs. Phoenix Suns (2-4)
6:30 P.M. PST, November 6, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Suns Starting Lineup:
PG: Eric Bledsoe
SG: Devin Booker
SF: TJ Warren
PF: Jared Dudley
C: Tyson Chandler
Key Reserves: Brandon Knight, Leandro Barbosa, P.J. Tucker, Alex Len
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Lou Williams, Tarik Black