Kelly Oubre Jr. missed team bus, out of Suns’ starting lineup in loss to Lakers
Phoenix Suns wing Kelly Oubre Jr. did not start for the Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night, a 125-100 loss for the Suns.
After the game, head coach Monty Williams said that Oubre was not starting because of an “internal” reason, per The Athletic’s Gina Mizell. The NBA TV broadcast of the game reported that Oubre had missed the team bus. Oubre admitted that was what had happened, per Mizell.
Oubre was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Cam Johnson, who got his first career start. It was Oubre’s first time coming off the bench this season.
He came off the bench and wound up playing most of what his regular role is in 27 minutes. He had 10 points, three rebounds and two assists on 4-of-9 shooting.
The timing wasn’t great to say the least, as not only were the Suns shorthanded, but Oubre was coming off the best week of his NBA career.
The 24-year-old was nominated for Western Conference Player of the Week. Over the last four games, he averaged 27.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, shooting over 50% from the field and three-point range.
In 51 prior games this season, Oubre averaged a career-high 19.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Phoenix was without Oubre in the starting lineup when they were already missing most of their frontcourt. Starting center Deandre Ayton was out due to left ankle soreness while key reserves like Aron Baynes, Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky were also out. Cheick Diallo was the only healthy Suns big and he started in Ayton’s place.
In the game itself, it was a whacky, poorly played affair on both sides. Despite a second straight off-night for Devin Booker with only 10 points and five assists on 2-for-11 shooting, Phoenix was within striking distance at halftime, only down nine.
The Lakers never really felt the need to get themselves off cruise control and it turned out that staying there was indeed enough. Their lead eventually brought on a Suns deficit of over 15 points by the mid-third quarter and Phoenix couldn’t make anything up from there.
The Suns had enough shooting and offensive contributions from others for the game to be relatively close considering the circumstances.
Mikal Bridges scored a team-high 18 points, Diallo added 15 and Jevon Carter had 13 off the bench.
Anthony Davis finished with an elementary 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while LeBron James never even turned it up to gear two to have 17 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Rajon Rondo bizarrely was 4-of-5 from three-point range and scored 23 points.
The Suns play their last game before the All-Star break on Wednesday at home against the Golden State Warriors. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.