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New FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Suns- Game 79

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (31-48) | Phoenix Suns (63-16)


Despite Westbrook stepping up for 28 points, the Suns eliminated the Lakers in a 121-110 loss.


Lakers vs Suns
Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The deal has sadly been sealed for Laker Nation after being put away by the best team in the NBA.  With the loss last night, the Lakers are out of playoff contention, missing the postseason for the first time since 2019.  It came down to the wire in the first, but the second half proved lethal for Los Angeles.

Anthony Davis led a 9-2 run to start things in the right direction. Malik Monk then added a three for the early offensive explosion.  Chris Paul brought things closer with two mid-range buckets, but Westbrook followed with a three in response.  After Booker got it to a one-score game, Dwight Howard followed with a sequence of 6 points in just over a minute.

Booker failed to slow down for the Suns in the first, bringing it close again with two scores and a three.  Westbrook sent Los Angeles with the lead into the second, closing out the quarter with a signature layup.  Nothing could be determined at this point. The Lakers grabbing the early lead meant nothing.  The Suns were below 50 percent from the field in the quarter, with no concern that it would last.

Cameron Johnson would have it all tied up to start the second, hitting the immediate three for PhoenixAustin Reaves then decided to complete the layup of his life on the next possession, stunning the Suns‘ defense through three defenders.   It was a momentary momentum setter for the Lakers that Davis and Carmelo Anthony would add to in light of the rookie’s tricky move.  LA  was then hit with a very uninvited 9-2 run capped by a Booker three, putting the Suns back on top.

Deandre Ayton attempted to establish the lead before halftime, leading another run in which he scored three straight buckets.  The Suns would go up by 9 with 2 minutes left in the half. However, Westbrook and AD continued to fight for their team. They brought it to within five before the break, with Russ having a tremendous first half of 18 points.  Without Lebron James on the court, however, the second half did not look promising.

Given it was a do-or-die situation for the Lakers, the defense looked somewhat tired.  Ayton would expose them inside, forcing defenders away from the perimeter, where Booker or Johnson laid silently, ready to hit the three.  This strategy differentiated the Lakers from genuine contenders, with their lackluster defense further proving that the Suns are the best team in the league for a reason.

The Lakers lost their first-half lead by the break, trailing the Suns 63-58 at halftime.


Lakers vs Suns
Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri/AP/Getty Images

Chris Paul only had 6 points last night but opened the second half with another score.  Westbrook kept the game in single digits with another three, but the Suns, unfortunately, began to put on a repeat show of the high skill and energy they have been showcasing all year. A 15-2 run led by Ayton and Booker had the Lakers down 20 in the middle of the third, with an inevitable elimination creeping on.  Booker was 6-9 from three with 32 points, making the third the quarter for his offensive display.

Westbrook reached 20 points with one final score in the quarter, but his offense was no match for the defending Western Conference Champions.  With the Suns up 18 going into the fourth, it would’ve taken a miracle for LA to beat the odds at that point. The Suns played out the final quarter with the same way casual, winning confidence as when these two teams last matched up.

In all honesty, this season cannot be entirely blamed on Westbrook. Although his experimenting cost them dearly, they indeed lacked depth in shooters and defenders.  Laker Nation can now stop pretending and accept the reality of defeat that came from this season. The nightmare has finally ended and with that brings hope and the possibility for a better outcome in future seasons.

The Lakers still have more games ahead this season, and perhaps they can find a way to show up and win for themselves.


The Lakers head to Golden State Thursday to face the Warriors starting at 7 p.m on TNT.       

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Duncan Dye – Franchise Sports Media

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