Lakers top Suns in a must win game 122 to 111 to keep pace for playoff race
The Los Angeles Lakers game plan was to attack the paint since the Phoenix Suns did not have Deandre Ayton Wednesday night. Lakers displayed a balance attack of scoring at the basket, but also shot 55.7% from the field to keep the Suns’ defense confused. Free throws have been an issue down the stretch in recent losses for the Lakers, but tonight the Lakers shot 78.3% from the line. Austin Reaves has elevated his game this season, and more recently has propelled the Lakers to back-to-back home wins recording a season high on Sunday night against the Magic with scoring 35 points. Tonight, Reaves seemed to be in full control by not forcing shots and allowing the game to come to him. His 6 for 10 shooting from the field contributed to his 25 points, by only making his only three-point attempt. More importantly, he contributed 11 timely assists and recognized who had the hot hand tonight. Lakers’ had a huge lift from Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell for the victory this evening.
Both players combined for 53 points and 11 assists. Since LeBron James’ injury, the Lakers now improve to a 7-5 record. Key players continue to step up in the absence of LeBron James, and the minutes that Reaves played tonight were key to getting the team moving in the right direction. “Reaves was huge for us, and he’s been huge for us all year. He’s in a great space right now, feeling his game and locked into what we’re trying to accomplish,” Darvin Ham stated about Austin’s presence for the Lakers.
The Phoenix Suns’ showed a level of frustration this evening by allowing 46 free-throw attempts throughout the game. Although Devon Booker did have a 33-point game, the Suns struggled to defend the counter scoring runs that the Lakers did as soon as Phoenix cut the lead to single digits. Kevin Durant missed his seventh game with an ankle injury and Deandre Ayton did not travel due to a hip injury. Phoenix remains 4th in the Western Conference behind the 3rd place Sacramento Kings by 5 games. Phoenix travels to play the Kings on Friday evening.
The Los Angeles Lakers climb into 10th place for the final spot in the play-in tournament and now have nine games remaining in the regular season. Improving to a 36-37 record, Lakers will host the 8th place Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night in what can be a potential play-in tournament preview. The key will be to win as many games as possible, while LeBron James recovers and returns to help a consistent Los Angeles Lakers team that have shown they can win more than lose in the past 12 games.