The Phoenix Suns hosted the defending “champion” Los Angeles Lakers last night in their 3rd of 4 preseason contests. The Suns would ultimately come up short, losing 112-107, led by Lebron James and Anthony Davis combining for 21 points with Kyle Kuzma netting 23 points on the night.
Behind the Curve
The Lakers have much more of an advantage this year, knowing their identity from the start. They are the defending champions for a reason. This is going to be a thorn in the Suns’ side as they still work out the kinks throughout the year, most notably Chris Paul. Paul had 4 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 turnovers. The Suns are going to need more offensive production and efficiency from Paul going forward as these games start to count in the near future.
The quick turnaround in “seasons” will also count against the Suns. Not as much time to gel in the offseason and get up to speed with plays, etc. Luckily for Paul, his relationship with head coach Monty Williams will make this a quick and hopefully seamless transition.
Yes, I know this is preseason and the matchup will look much different during the year. However, a big takeaway I saw in this game was Suns ability to compete through the entirety of the contest. Short of a 4th quarter let down, the Suns were outperforming the Lakers. This tells me that if the Suns can “right the ship” in time for the regular season, the Lakers will drop some games to the Suns that they didn’t anticipate.
The Performance of Deandre Ayton was a bright spot as well. 21 points, 9 rebounds with 8/10 shooting. The addition of Paul can greatly speak to this performance. Getting Ayton into highly efficient scoring scenarios will only help the Suns.
The Sun Will Rise Again
Suns fans should feel rejuvenated. An exciting bubble-run will only continue to build this year as the Suns are for sure going to continue to improve and make some waves in this league. The healing waters of a long-overdue playoff-birth will surely make 2021 a better year than before.