LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers finished with a 109-95 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday at Staples Center for a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Below are key takeaways from the game.
1. Anthony Davis dominates through injury scare
Davis showed immediate discomfort in his left leg after a chase-down block on Devin Booker with 2:36 left in the second quarter. He did not leave the game, but Davis constantly pulled on his knee and limped. Then when the first half ended, Davis walked slowly and was the last person off the court.
It appeared he might either have to sit or remain extremely limited. Neither scenario happened.
Instead, Davis still suited up for the second half and then dominated in the third quarter. Davis scored 18 of his team-high 34 points in the period. Despite his dominance, Davis was not always comfortable.
After LeBron James set Davis up for a dunk, he winced afterwards. During a subsequent timeout, Davis paced around the Lakers bench before bending his knees. Davis still stayed on the court, but had some more awkward moments.
Davis could not connect on another James lob and fell while pursuing the pass. That prompted Davis' teammates to leap off the bench and pick him up as if they were saving fine china from breaking. James found Davis for another dunk attempt, and his shot bricked off the rim and sailed high in the air.
Nonetheless, Davis converted on a hook shot, powered past Suns center Deandre Ayton for a reverse layup and had a consistent post presence.
So it might worry the Lakers how Davis' health is holding up. But it's an encouraging sign that Davis successfully played through whatever pain he had.
Anthony Davis scored a game-high xx points for the Lakers. (Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)
2. Lakers have other injuries to monitor
The Lakers sat Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for the final quarter after suffering a left quad contusion. Dennis Schroder, Davis and James are likely not fully healthy. The Lakers' success will largely hinge on James and Davis, obviously. But the Lakers consider Caldwell-Pope a valuable piece because of his 3-point shooting. For a team that has been wildly inconsistent in that area, they could struggle with filling in for KCP's absence.
3. First half was brutal to watch.
The nearly 7,500 fans may have felt some nostalgia in witnessing the Lakers' first playoff game before fans since April 28, 2013. But the Lakers last home playoff game was ugly.
Then, the Lakers unraveled in Game 4 against the San Antonio Spurs that ended in a sweep. Then, Dwight Howard was ejected before bolting in free agency that summer, while Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and other role players stayed sidelined with injuries.
The current Lakers are much better than that team. But the first half was a throwback to bad 90s basketball. The Lakers (3-of-16) and Suns (4-of-13) shot terribly from 3-point range.
4. Laker fans had a lot of disdain for Jae Crowder
Shortly after the game started, Laker fans chanted insults at Crowder. Thankfully, the fan behavior did not mimic the Russell Westbrook popcorn incident, the Trae Young spitting fiasco or the Ja Morant family threats. It was all relatively civil.
So where did this disdain originate? Perhaps because Crowder played last season for the Miami Heat, who met the Lakers last year in the NBA Finals. Or maybe because Crowder liked a fan tweet that said Davis' championship ring was fake. Lakers fans also didn't like that Davis was called for a foul on a closeout 3-pointer only 15 seconds into Game 3. They got upset when Booker was exchanging words with Davis and Schroder after Booker earned an automatic ejection for committing a flagrant-2 on Schroder as he drove to the basket with 35.4 seconds left.
Regardless, Lakers fans hurled the insults loudly and cheered anytime Crowder struggled. Considering Crowder had five points while going 1-of-8 from the field and 0-of-6 from deep, those moments happened often. Those Lakers fans also cheered when James drew an offensive foul on Crowder by taking a charge at halfcourt nearly halfway through the fourth quarter.
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