Phoenix Suns pounce on lifeless Lakers for season-high 140 points, blowout win

Mar 13, 2022, 10:26 PM

PHOENIX — If you were in need of a reminder for how important the Phoenix Suns’ chemistry and effort are to their formula for success, it was provided to you on Sunday night in a 140-111 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

While the Lakers’ roster is not the most talented once you get past the fourth name, there is a jarring lack of overall spirit and togetherness that would go a long way in helping solve some of their problems.

They couldn’t even get up for a primetime weekend showing on ESPN against a team like the Suns that they’ve mildly developed a rivalry with since their postseason series last year.

With that in mind, the game started with a 6-2 Lakers spurt, a lively opening where it looked like they had come into possession of some real energy.

Those first two minutes, though, turned out to be quite the mirage.

Once the Lakers started missing, the Suns made a point to test Los Angeles’ transition defense. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook were disinterested in the notion of full, complete defensive efforts. It was an absolute disaster, and once Phoenix got a whiff of that, the night was curtains.

The Suns closed the first quarter on a 46-18 run in the last 9:52. They had 17 fastbreak points, nearly reaching their season high for a whole first half of 19 and led by 26 through the game’s opening frame. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel took three separate timeouts across those 12 minutes.

“I thought the pressure, the communication, the carryover from yesterday’s film session and meeting was a high level,” head coach Monty Williams said, noting the Suns’ “hit-first mentality” on defense and rebounding was consistently there.

Phoenix’s 48 points tied for the season high in a first quarter and were the most the Lakers have allowed in the first quarter of a game in the shot clock era, which dates back to 1955, per Stathead.

You were in a safe enough range to swap the channel from there, which I’m sure some of you did. A brief surge from the Lakers of getting to the foul line resulted in getting the Suns’ lead down to 16 early in the second quarter before Phoenix quickly bumped it back up to 25.

It was an emphatic response for the Suns after Friday’s defeat to the Toronto Raptors when they failed to execute in crunch time.

“We just wanted to come with a lot of energy and effort,” guard Devin Booker said, noting how the Suns hate losing two games in a row. “We did that to start the game. They had parts of the game where they felt like they were pushing back and we rebuttaled again. It was a good game for us.”

The most notable thing to happen the rest of the evening was one of the puppies in the halftime puppy race urinating on the floor. Create whatever analogy you would like out of that.

Along with tying the season high for points in a first quarter, the Suns’ 79 points in the first half were the most for any half this year, 40 third-quarter points were a new top mark and so too was the final product of 140.

Booker finished with 30 points, two rebounds, 10 assists and four steals in 32 minutes. In his first six games without Chris Paul, Booker is averaging 26.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 3.0 turnovers and 2.7 steals per game while shooting 49.6% overall.

Cam Payne had a team-high 11 assists without a turnover while Deandre Ayton added 23 points and 16 rebounds on 11-of-14 from the field in 27 minutes, feasting on the Lakers’ lack of size and sluggish switching defense.

Ayton has a pretty great mentality when teams go small against the Suns like the Lakers did on Sunday by starting 6-foot-7 wing Stanley Johnson.

“I feel disrespected if they come out small,” Ayton said. “I could guard their lineups (but) I don’t know if they could guard ours. That’s my thing, just punishing teams like that.”

James got to 31 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 30 minutes. All of those players did not play in the fourth quarter.

The fastbreak points for Phoenix ended at a season-high 27 points, and 76 points in the paint were also a new No. 1 for this year.

Lakers big man Anthony Davis, who is rehabbing a foot sprain, responded to a pregame question of if the main reason the Lakers lost to the Suns in the first round of last year’s playoffs was because he was hurt from Game 4 on. He said it was, that the Suns know that and Phoenix “got away with one,” per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

Booker confirmed postgame while smiling and laughing to himself that he had seen those comments before tip-off but that the game’s result “was what was going to happen anyways.”

“If if was a fifth, we’d all be drunk. … There’s a lot of if’s in this game,” Booker said. “And you look at history along the lines, there’s something that comes up for every team during every season. Instead of just taking the high route and going, you have to make a comment like that. It’s kind of funny.”

Booker was then informed that Williams had brought up Paul’s shoulder injury pregame and how that also affected the series like Davis’ injury.

Booker in response raised both his hands with a shrug, let out a, “Yeah” and then proceeded to smile and laugh to himself again.

Savage stuff (and he’s not wrong, either).

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Phoenix Suns pounce on lifeless Lakers for season-high 140 points, blowout win