After a rough loss at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the court Friday night as they hosted the Phoenix Suns.
It marked the third time this season the two young teams have matched up, with the Lakers winning the first two in Phoenix.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton went with his normal starting lineup of Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Brook Lopez, as he decided to stick with his struggling rookie at the point guard position.
Suns center Tyson Chandler missed the game with an injury, so Greg Monroe made his second straight start in his place alongside Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Marquese Chriss.
The Lakers got off to a much better start than they have in the past few games as Lopez scored four of the team’s first six points and L.A. jumped out to an early 6-2 lead.
Phoenix responded with five straight points of their own though, as Booker knocked down a three. Booker is the Suns clear No. 1 option offensively, so as usual, the Suns went to him early.
Booker followed that up with another three and then a driving layup, as he and Ingram went back and forth in the scoring department for a few possessions and the Suns led 12-11 four minutes in.
Ingram was in attack mode for most of the first quarter, getting to the basket pretty much whenever he wants. He completed a three-point play to tie the game at 21, but Booker quickly responded with a three giving him and Ingram 11 points apiece.
Lopez also had 10 first-quarter points of his own, and the Lakers trailed 29-28 after one quarter as Julius Randle beat the buzzer with a baseline fadeaway jumper.
Troy Daniels got the scoring started in the second quarter with a layup, and Randle immediately responded on the other end with a rare three.
Jordan Clarkson and Randle have been playing really well feeding off of each other in recent games, and with the entire second unit on the court early in the second they did a nice job of providing offense for Walton.
The Lakers fell behind 46-41 as the first unit came back into the game and committed three straight turnovers. Ball found Lopez for an alley-oop though to cut the deficit to 46-43.
Caldwell-Pope knocked down his first three of the night to keep the Lakers within three after Booker connected from deep to give him 14 points in the game.
The Lakers did not close the quarter well, and when Booker drilled back-to-back threes to end the half, the Suns lead was 65-53 at the half. Booker had a game-high 22 first-half points.
Monroe scored four straight points to start the second half, but the Lakers got on the scoreboard when Ball found Kuzma for a dunk on a full-court outlet pass.
Ball got the Lakers going a little bit as he went coast-to-coast for a layup on the next possession and then got a defensive rebound and found Caldwell-Pope in transition, who was fouled and knocked down a pair of free throws.
Booker ended an 8-0 Laker run by completing a three-point play, picking up right where he left off in the first half.
From there Kuzma got hot, which was a pleasant sight to see as he went 0-for-6 in the first half. He made four straight buckets, including a three to cut the deficit to 72-66 and forcing Phoenix to call a timeout.
The biggest difference for the Lakers to start the second half was energy as they were seemingly going through the motions for much of the first half, but the starting unit led by Kuzma and Ball brought a ton of energy in the third to cut the deficit to just three.
The Lakers play got sloppy towards the end of the quarter though, and they trailed 89-82 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter didn’t start off well for L.A. as Troy Daniels drilled a three and then Warren converted a Ball turnover into two free throws, making one of them. Corey Brewer responded by knocking down a pair of free throws though as the deficit was nine.
As soon as it looked like the Lakers could be making a run, Ball missed a layup in transition and the Suns turned it into points as Daniels followed with another three to put the deficit back at 11, causing Walton to call a timeout.
Brewer’s energy caused a 6-0 run out of the timeout as he capped it off with a steal and a slam, bringing the Lakers within five, and this time it was Phoenix that needed a timeout.
Booker and Alex Len continued to be a problem though, and coupled with sloppiness by the Lakers, the Suns built their lead back up to double digits at 114-103 with a little over four minutes remaining in the game.
Caldwell-Pope and Ulis got into a little shoving match after a timeout was called, which marked the third scrum in three games between these two teams this season. Both players earned technical fouls, as did Josh Jackson but Kuzma missed the technical free throw.
The Lakers trailed by 12 late though, and there was no comeback to be had as they fell 122-113 despite Kuzma’s career-high 30 points.
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