EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Phoenix Suns’ reserves bounce back in preseason win vs. Lakers

Oct 5, 2022, 9:56 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2022, 3:06 pm
Los Angeles Lakers guard Dwayne Bacon (2) drives against Phoenix Suns forward Ish Wainright (12) du...

Los Angeles Lakers guard Dwayne Bacon (2) drives against Phoenix Suns forward Ish Wainright (12) during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

(AP Photo/John Locher)

After a rough showing in the preseason opener, the Phoenix Suns’ bench had a much better night in Wednesday’s 119-115 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Landry Shamet scored 21 points, Jock Landale contributed 14 points and Damion Lee added 11.

The reserves were asked to do even more because of injuries for Cam Johnson (right thumb sprain) and Cam Payne (right finger sprain) that had both of them combine for five total minutes. Both were ruled out in the second quarter and did not return. That obviously is the number one takeaway and concern coming out of Wednesday. Both are crucial to Phoenix’s success this year.

Payne’s absence granted the opportunity for Shamet to run the offense more, one he used to get his jumper going. The fifth-year guard was 5-of-7 from 3-point range and was more aggressive in the second half with seeking out his shot, something he has to do every time he’s on the floor, especially in lineups consisting of mostly the bench.

Landale, a 26-year-old second-year center acquired from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for cash, continued to slot in as the backup center for the second straight game. That was a place on the depth chart it seemed like returning players Bismack Biyombo and Dario Saric had a solid chance at getting. But Landale has impressed the Suns coaches throughout the summer, and you can see why. The active body reeled in seven rebounds in 23 minutes and knocked down a pair of 3s as well.

He grabbed three of those rebounds on the offensive glass and Torrey Craig added four of his seven there too. Rebounding is something head coach Monty Williams wants to see improve this year, which is why there’s a good chance we will see a healthy dose of both Landale and Craig in the rotation.

With all that said, the second unit really picked it up on the defensive side of the ball in the second half after a lackadaisical affair in the first two quarters that led to 69 points for Los Angeles.

A 28-20 Suns fourth quarter that ultimately sealed the victory was thanks to a tone-setting start defensively from a lineup of Shamet, Lee, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Ish Wainright and Landale. Luwawu-Cabarrot was +20, Landale was +18, Wainright was +16 and Shamet were +12.

Devin Booker registered 22 points while Chris Paul had 13 points and 10 assists. Mikal Bridges fouled out in the third quarter after picking up three fouls in the first three minutes of the game. Booker, Paul and Deandre Ayton each clocked in at around 25 minutes and did not play in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive preseason game.

We did see Saric for the first time this NBA preseason. He played for the Croatian national team this summer in his first game action since an ACL injury took him out of the 2021 NBA Finals and led to him sitting out all of last season.

Saric got some run in the first half, including alongside the starters when Johnson was out. Craig, however, started the second half, for those jotting that kind of stuff down. Saric looked good and had some nice chemistry in ball screens with two-way signing Duane Washington Jr. that got him two buckets late.

Saric finished with 12 points and four rebounds in 15 minutes.

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