The Lakers are still looking for answers as they navigate this new season with new personnel. Tonight, they took the stage for the first meaningful matchup against the Phoenix Suns since Round 1, Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. The Suns looked essentially the same against the new Lakers in their 115-105 win.
The Lakers started big, tried small, went back to big, then small. The first quarter looked promising for Los Angeles, but the bottom fell out and the Lakers scrambled around the floor. The Purple and Gold are searching for synchrony.
Coach Frank Vogel talked through his team’s struggles, “Offensively we’re learning about our team.” He went on, “We gotta’ finish at the rim.”
LeBron James (25 pts) led his team in points. And right behind him was Anthony Davis (22 pts). The King went 5-for-6 from the arc. The entire team actually outscored the Suns from three, converting 44% of their triples to the Suns 31%. The arc was their brightest point in terms of shooting. Lakers two-way player Austin Reaves (8 pts) and veteran Carmelo Anthony (16 pts, 5 reb) were among the sharpshooters.The Lakers’ newest point guard Russell Westbrook (15 pts, 9 ast, 11 reb) took to the floor for night two with his typical Westbrook work ethic. And for his second night repping his hometown team, Russ produced. After finishing his first start with Los Angeles –23, Westbrook capped off tonight at +4. Although, early foul trouble may have limited his numbers overall.
Early foul trouble was a trend among both teams tonight. This went well for the Suns with a deep bench of familiar faces. But the frequent rotation of new guys was tough on the Lakers who are seeking consistency.
It was the paint that was lethal for Los Angeles though. Phoenix converted 52 points in the paint, 36 more than the Lakers. Phoenix’s scoring was charged by Chris Paul (23 pts, 14 ast). CP3 hit his 20,000th career point milestone. He is the first player in NBA history with 20,000 points and 10,000 assists.
After both the Lakers and Suns dropped their first game of the 2021-22 season, this game was set to be a statement. But, the Lakers will have to look to Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies to get their conversation going.
Coach Vogel is leaving fans with this about the what’s to come for his Lakers squad, “Our process is really strong and we’ve got a good system on both sides of the ball and we’re gonna’ have a hell of a season,” he affirmed.