LOS ANGELES — Phoenix nearly came back from a 36-point deficit, but fell to the Los Angeles Lakers to finish 2-2 on its four-game road trip.
Devin Booker scored a game-high 32 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 26 as the Suns (13-21) got within seven in the fourth quarter, but LeBron James answered with five points to stem off Phoenix.
James finished with a triple-double of 31 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists while Anthony Davis added 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers (27-7).
Deandre Ayton posted a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds in his second game back from an ankle injury. Ricky Rubio suffered what he called a hip injury in the second half as he finished with six points and nine assists in 26 minutes.
Lakers 117, Suns 107 (STAPLES Center, 18,997 sellout)
Player of the game: LeBron James
Anthony Davis started fast in finishing with 26 points, but James closed the deal with eight points in the fourth in posting a triple-double.
Adding 13 rebounds and 12 assists, James made all the winning plays at the end for the Lakers against a game Phoenix team.
Fourth quarter: Phoenix kept coming and coming to the point it took James to seal the deal for the Lakers.
The Suns opened the quarter on a 16-4 run, making the score 105-95 with 6:49 remaining in the game. They then sliced it to eight on an Ayton dunk, but James answered with a three with 3:53 left.
Phoenix then got within seven on an Oubre drive, but again, James answered with a layup to make the difference nine, 112-103, with 1:19 left
Booker got a basket on a goal-tending call, but James was fouled and made two free throws to keep that nine-point cushion.
Third quarter: Once down 36, Phoenix chipped deficit down to 22 going into the fourth, 101-79. The Suns shot 60.9% in the quarter as Oubre and Booker combined for 18.
Ayton added six and four rebounds. The Suns closed the quarter on a 22-13 run.
First half: Lakers led by as many as 34 points in the first half in building a 74-41 lead at the break. Davis missed one shot from the field (8-of-9) in scoring 19 points, Avery Bradley had 14 and James already had a double-double of 10 and 10 dimes.
Booker and Oubre had a combined 28 points in the half on 9-of-17 shooting. The rest of the Suns had 13 points on 6-of-22 shooting as Ayton managed just two on 1-of-5 shooting in his second game back from a right ankle sprain.
Phoenix was down 20 with 4:57 left in the first quarter as Monty Williams played 11 players in the quarter trying nearly any and everything to stem the Lakers’ tide.
Didn’t work. Suns trailed by 26 points at end of first as Phoenix had six turnovers and just two field goals in the final 8:30 of the quarter.
What did we learn about the Suns tonight?
Phoenix isn’t nearly as close to the Lakers when the Lakers decide they’re going to play with purpose, focus and energy.
They had it going on all cylinders and forced Williams to try all types of lineup combinations.The Suns are at full strength, but are still working to try to get Ayton going.
He’s had slow starts in his two games back from the ankle sprain, but picked it up in the second half. Now it didn’t matter as far as the final outcome Wednesday night, but it may be time to start him instead of bringing him off the bench.
Timing still off on lobs and passes to him. With that being said, Ayton shot 7-of 14 from the field for 16 points and had 14 rebounds in 31 minutes. Like I said, he can get boards in his sleep, but Suns need more points, especially against a team like the Lakers.
Phoenix is still not comfortable with prosperity.
Had all the momentum one could have after that comeback win at Portland to mark two consecutive wins and turn right around and trail by 26 at then end of the first quarter.
They fell behind by 19 to the Trail Blazers.
Sticking with that theme, Phoenix rallied back and got within seven points in the fourth. As Blazers coach Terry Stotts said, the Suns keeps coming and they did that again.
Amazing comeback, but the Suns needed everything to go right and you can’t win that way against a team like the Lakers.
Now there is concern moving forward as the Suns were once again bitten by the injury bug with Rubio. He’s missed time with knee and back injuries.
He’s makes everyone else’s job easier and to lose him again just when Ayton is starting to find some rhythm is damaging to the Suns. Doubt he’ll play Friday against New York, but the Suns would hope he returns during their five-game homestand.
They are all winnable games. They’ll be more challenging wins if Rubio can’t go.
Having to rely on the backups who are playing “by committee” as Williams has put it isn’t ideal for the Suns.
“We’ve started two games in a row like this. We’ve dug ourselves a hole. In Portland, it was just (Damian) Lillard’s shots, but tonight it was like this ‘laze’ in the first quarter and then after that, we started playing a little bit better in the second quarter, but then in the third and fourth, we just imposed our will and that’s who we have to be. We’re not good enough to start like we’re in warmups in practice.” — Suns coach Monty Williams.
“I’m taking this one personal. I’m taking this one home. I’m going to take this one home. This is really our first time this season getting punched in the mouth. I’m going to take this one and really let this marinate.” — Suns center Deandre Ayton.
“They got in their early offense, but they made shots. That third quarter, I think they went for 38 I believe. Book got going, got to the free throw line. Kelly got going as well. Ayton hit some tough shots.” — Lakers forward LeBron James as Phoenix shot 60.9% in the third quarter.
“I slipped, but it was something with my hip. It’s good.
How does it feel?
You’ll be able to play in the next game?
“I don’t know.”
Just a wet spot on the floor?
“Yeah, just a wet spot on the floor. I slipped.”
Kind of unusual?
“It is what it is.” — Suns point guard Ricky Rubio about his injury.
“I think we took a step forward, especially closing out this game the way we did. Coach calls it an emotional loss in Golden State and responded well with back-to-back wins in two heated games. I like it. Anytime you can go .500 on a road trip, it’s good.” — Suns guard Devin Booker.
New York Knicks at Suns, 7 p.m., Friday, Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.
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