Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Suns – Game 9 – 2023

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (4-5) | Phoenix Suns (4-5)


The Los Angeles Lakers kicked off the In-Season Tournament by defeating the Phoenix Suns for their first road win of the year.

The Lakers vs Suns played at the Footprint Center on Friday.

Lakers vs Suns | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Matt York/AP

This was a massive win for the Los Angeles Lakers as they improved to 4-5 and 1-4 on the road with a 122-119 victory over the Phoenix Suns, ending their four-game road trip on a high note. 

LeBron James was the engine for the Lakers, finishing with 32 points (11-of-17 FGs, 3-of-4 3s, 7-of-11 FTs), 11 rebounds, and six assists.

It was great because it was an In-Season Tournament win,” James told Lisa Salters. “We’ll take that for sure. $500,000 on the line, so we’re going for that.”

However, James wasn’t the main storyline in this one as it was a redemption game for Cam Reddish, who was 5-for-8 (63 percent) from deep towards 17 points, three rebounds, and three steals. For perspective, Reddish came into this game shooting just 12 percent from 3.

I was trying to stay ready, you know Bron out there so you got to be ready at all times,” Reddish said.

Reddish’s fifth triple of the game was the biggest, putting Los Angeles up 118-113 with 1:10 to play. 

To all the naysayers and basketball savants that don’t know nothing about basketball telling me I should’ve shot that shot in Miami instead of passing to Cam Reddish, well I did the same thing tonight because I trust my teammates and I make the right play every single time,” James said on ESPN. “Game ball goes to Cam Reddish, for sure.”

Reddish put up this promising performance after getting the start for the Lakers instead of Austin Reaves.

Despite coming off the bench, Reaves still logged the third most minutes (35) for Los Angeles, totaling 15 points (6-of-11 FGs, 2-of-4 3s) and seven assists.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham said that moving Reaves to the bench wasn’t a demotion but a “realignment,” comparing it to Manu Ginobili with the San Antonio Spurs.

Everyone knew Manu was a starter, it was more about balancing the units,” Ham said of the lineup switch. “(Austin) still played 35 minutes. His minutes weren’t going to go down; he’s gonna finish the game. He was huge down the stretch.”

Reaves was 2-for-7 in the first half but was 4-for-4 in the second half, including 3-for-3 in the fourth quarter.

The Suns got outworked by the Lakers

My parents taught me at a young age that the coach is the coach, and regardless of the decision, you respect that,” Reaves said of Ham’s decision.

The start of the Lakers vs Suns first half. 

Lakers vs Suns | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Matt York/AP

For what it’s worth, Ham used similar wording last season when he moved Russell Westbrook to the bench.

“It’s not a demotion, it’s a realignment,” Ham said then about Westbrook.

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the new starting lineup of Anthony Davis, James, Reddish, Taurean Prince, and D’Angelo Russell was only +2 in 12 minutes of play together.

Regardless, those results could be skewed as Davis came into this one a bit banged up, dealing with a hip injury. However, Davis managed 18 points (5-of-14 FGs, 8-of-8 FTs), 11 rebounds, and four assists.

Felt it a couple of times throughout the course of the game, but for the most part it felt fine,” Davis said of his hip.

Davis had 13 of his 18 points in the second half when he said he stopped thinking about his hip and just played.

Speaking of injuries, James said that Kevin Durant’s knee hit his shin, and he said it never really loosened up, saying it was pretty sore after the game, but he was able to play through it.

Despite the loss, Durant had a masterful performance for the Suns, putting up 38 points (13-of-27 FGs, 4-of-6 3s, 8-of-10 FTs), nine rebounds, and five assists. His teammate Bradley Beal made his home debut with the Suns, totaling 24 points (9-of-17 FGs, 2-of-4 3s, 4-of-6 FTs), four rebounds, and two steals.

After the first quarter, the Suns led 34-25. Russell had a fine start with 10 points. However, James and Davis combined for just seven points on 3-of-11 FGs. Los Angeles was also -2 in the six minutes with their new starters. They have now trailed by double-digits in the first quarter in seven of their nine games.

The Lakers also didn’t do enough to take advantage of the non-Durant minutes, as they gave up 14 points to Phoenix in less than five minutes with Durant on the bench while only scoring nine points themselves.

Los Angeles headed into halftime down 63-55 after allowing a layup from Beal at the buzzer that got him to a game-high 20 points.

The Lakers managed to hang around despite not shooting well from deep (3-of-10 on 3s) and getting crushed on the glass (32-18). James scored 14 of his 32 points in the second quarter, including five points in the final 49 seconds of the first half. Meanwhile, Davis had just five points on 2-of-9 shooting.

The second half started as a different story, as Phoenix was 0-of-4 to start the third period, allowing Los Angeles to get within four points after a pair of free throws from James and a layup from Davis.

The end of the Lakers vs Suns first half. 

However, it seemed as if the Suns had an answer for every time the Lakers scored.

The start of the Lakers vs Suns second half. 

Lakers vs Suns | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Kate Frese/NBAE/Getty Images

Los Angeles continued to hang around, fluctuating between deficits of around five and 10. It was 83-78 in Phoenix’s favor after Russell’s eighth assist got Davis a dunk with 2:56 left in the third quarter.

After the Lakers conceded yet another offensive rebound, the Suns’ 15th, they fell behind by 10 with three seconds left in the third, but Reddish managed to beat the buzzer with a 3 to trim the margin to 96-89.

This is where Los Angeles took over, as they had an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter, Rui Hachimura and Reddish hit back-to-back 3s, followed by a steal from Hachimura that resulted in a fast break layup from Reaves, giving the Lakers their first lead, 97-96, since 6:31 left in the first quarter. 

This game was eerily similar to the first matchup, where in the Lakers’ win on Oct. 26 over Phoenix, Los Angeles began that fourth quarter on a 10-0 run.

The Suns dared the Lakers to beat them from beyond the arc, and they did. Los Angeles made six of their last seven 3-point attempts, almost all wide-open or late contests.

Hachimura was terrific, as after another big play, this time a steal and a hammer dunk through traffic, Los Angeles had a seven-point lead. It was a career-high in steals for Hachimura, four, in just 20 minutes of action.

But Durant stayed hot for the Suns and countered a Reaves Jumper with a lefty leaner to cut Los Angeles’ lead to two, 113-111, with 3:01 to play. Yet, from there, the Lakers outscored Phoenix 9-8 to close out the game.

After beating the Suns, the Lakers have three In-Season Tournament games remaining: vs. the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 14, at the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 17, and vs. the Utah Jazz on Nov. 21.

The final score of the Lakers vs Suns was 122-119, Lakers.

The Lakers will now take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, November 12th, at 7:00 pm PST.


– Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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