LOS ANGELES — Coming off a disappointing loss against the Philadelphia 76ers a few nights earlier, the Los Angeles Lakers came into Friday night confident they could tally a third straight win in as many games against the Phoenix Suns.
However, this wasn’t the case as the Suns flipped the script at Staples Center by pulling away with a 122-113 win led by third-year guard Devin Booker, who tallied a game-high 33 points, including 22 in the first half alone.
Phoenix held control throughout much of the second half by keeping Los Angeles at bay despite big pushes that was pushed ahead by rookie Kyle Kuzma scoring 28 of his career-high 30 points in the second half along with 10 rebounds in the loss.
It was a Los Angeles finished with five players in double figures while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and held a 66-46 edge in the paint and 27-15 advantage in fast-break points. Lonzo Ball also finished with six points, six assists, six rebounds, and five steals.
“Tonight Phoenix played harder and played tougher, especially in the first half,” head coach Luke Walton said. “I thought in the second half we did a really good job of competing, but it takes more than a half of basketball to win games. They definitely deserved to win that game.”
Brandon Ingram had gotten off to a strong start with his aggressiveness offensively 12 pts with his first five made baskets all at the rim including a strong one-hand jam while also being a factor as a distributor with three assists. However, his production tailed off finishing with five more points the rest of the way on out.
The Suns began to gain separation in the second quarter behind Booker’s 22 first-half points that included drilling six 3-pointers while Phoenix made 56 percents of their shots from the field with 17 assists. Despite the deficit, Los Angeles was led by Ingram and Brook Lopez notching 12 points each while the team shot 51.2 percent from the field.
Following missing his first six shots in the first half, Kuzma caught fire to start the third quarter making his first four shots to cut the margin to single digits heading into the fourth quarter, but it was the Suns keeping the Lakers at arm’s length by matching baskets with them in the final frame.
Although it marked the second straight loss at home, Walton believes it could provide a strong teaching moment for his young team moving forward.
“We didn’t think they were going to come out and play that hard and play that well,” Walton said. ” This a great teaching moment and learning moment for our guys, as far as everybody in the NBA is good. Just because we beat a team twice doesn’t mean that we’re better than they are.”