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Phoenix, Arizona- The Los Angeles Lakers gained their first victory of the young NBA season with a dominate performance against the Phoenix Suns, 131-113. The Lakers won behind an extremely efficient second quarter, in which they scored 44 points.
The Lakers had seven players who scored in double figures led by Lance Stephenson’s 23 points, Javale McGee who tallied 20 point, and Lebron James who had 19 points. Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo did not play as they were both serving suspensions.
Bad habits from last season like non-crisp passes and nonchalant transition defense reared their ugly heads for the Phoenix Suns as this game got away from them in the second quarter. The Suns did have two bright spots in this game as Devin Booker scored 23 points and DeAndre Ayton added 22 points.
Booker started off the game very aggressively by driving and scoring six of the first eight points of the game for Phoenix.
The Lakers started to play better defense behind the rim protection of McGee as back-to-back blocks led to baskets for Los Angeles.
Ayton had a very impressive sequence in the middle of the quarter on defense when he got stuck guarding Lebron James. He was able to force James into a tough three-pointer by being able to move his feet not allowing him to get in the paint. Then coming back down on offense, from the post, he found an open Trevor Ariza for a three-point shot.
Ayton wasn’t the only center playing well as Laker center McGee filled up the stat sheet in the first quarter with nine points and four blocks, those points included a shot from beyond the arc. Los Angeles led 32-30 after the first quarter.
The second started off with Lance Stephenson setting the tone on both ends with his aggressive play leading the Lakers on a 10-2 run. Phoenix got back into the game by running their offense through Booker.
The Lakers extended the lead back out by taking advantage of lazy possessions from Phoenix getting turnovers and converting those turnovers into lay-ups. The lead continued to build as the Lakers ran up and down the floor hitting open three-pointers and lay-ups off of turnovers.
Los Angeles went into the locker room up 76-54 over the Suns. The Lakers were led by James who had 17 points, McGee added 15 points and Stevenson scored 12 points. Phoenix was led by Booker who scored 15 points and Ayton who tallied 10 points in the first half.
Each team looked like they were stuck in mud to start the second half. The Suns had two bright spots during the third quarter as Ayton displayed his defensive versatility with back-to-back blocked shots and Ryan Anderson strung together a few good offensive possessions.
This was not enough as the Lakers maintained their 20-point lead throughout the quarter.
To add injury to embarrassment Booker pulled up lame in the third with what appeared to be a left hamstring injury.
The Lakers closed out the quarter 106-86 . In the fourth quarter the Lakers took out their starters and Phoenix featured Ayton exclusively on offense and he took advantage of the Lakers small lineup but it wasn’t enough to close the gap.
Lakers would go on to win, 131-113.