Lakers continue home stand as they face Phoenix Suns

Lakers are coming off a huge win against the Orlando Magic.

Nowadays, we begin Laker game previews with the Western Conference standings. Because we know of the pile-up happening in the West. Check this out:

Seeds 5-12 are 2.5 games apart. You see the Lakers outside of the play-in picture. As I’ve stated numerous times, the Lakers are running out of chances. They have 10 games left to get themselves inside the play-in or/and playoff picture.

The Lakers can make it even more interesting after Wednesday night. They draw the fourth-seeded Phoenix Suns, who are a game above the fifth-seeded Clippers. A win over the 2021 NBA Finalists would be huge (that really goes without saying) and a loss for the Suns would put them closer to this pile-up. A huge losing skid could take the Suns out of the Top 10 altogether. That’s how close this is.

The last time the Lakers faced the Suns, L.A. was very shorthanded as they didn’t have LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and Austin Reaves active. It was almost like a throwaway game for the Lakers. Their first match-up against Phoenix was more memorable with Patrick Beverley and Deandre Ayton getting into a little scuffle.

Well, these two teams are totally different now. We know about the Lakers having a makeover before the trading deadline. Phoenix decided to roll the dice as they traded Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Jae Crowder, and four first-round picks for ol’ pal T.J. Warren… and Kevin Durant.

But maybe the Suns rolled a one on their D20 die. Durant returned from an MCL sprain to play the first three games in March (all Phoenix wins). But then right before his first home game with Phoenix, Durant slipped and sprained his ankle during warm-ups. Durant hasn’t played since and he’ll be out for Wednesday’s game against the Lakers.

The Suns have suffered for it. With no Durant and Phoenix no longer possessing the depth they had before the trade, Phoenix has gone 1-4 in their last five games. Phoenix also won’t have Deandre Ayton as he is out with a hip injury.

But Phoenix still has Devin Booker, who did score 46 points against the Thunder on Sunday. Chris Paul is 37 but he can still set the table with the best of them (9.2 assists per game). And they do still have shooters on the team with Damion Lee (.446 from three), Landry Shamet (.386), and newly-acquired Terrence Ross (.388 since he got with Phoenix). And they still have defensive-minded guys in Torrey Craig, Josh Okogie, and big man Bismack Biyombo.

The Suns might be stumbling a bit but it matters not for the Lakers. We know how very up and down this team can be. Last Sunday, they were definitely up. They won a close game against Orlando and they needed a career night from Austin Reaves (35 points!) to get the victory. But Reaves has also been consistent as hell; he has scored double figs his last 8 games, averaging 19.1 points, 3.5 boards, and 5.5 assists while shooting .570 from the floor. By the way, they’re also all off the bench.

Anthony Davis only scored 15 points against the Magic. He’s had a couple of games where he hasn’t been great offensively (8 against the Raptors where Toronto swarmed him all game and 17 in a loss to the Knicks at home). The Lakers need Davis to be his MVP self the rest of the campaign. At the very least, he has to make a huge impact if he’s stifled from getting buckets.

And the Lakers need to stop climbing uphill like they have in recent games. Yes, they’re very capable of making comebacks. But their energy can be discouraging whenever they get off to slow starts or trail by double digits. Orlando led, 20-11, before they turned that around. Maybe if they didn’t get down by 14 against Dallas, the Lakers wouldn’t have to worry about games coming down to the final possession. And they let the Rockets smack them around because they thought they could do whatever they wanted to a bad NBA team.

Well, they can’t let that happen against a Phoenix team, even if they don’t have as much depth as they used to. Devin Booker and Chris Paul are two stars that are capable of having huge games. And maybe they’ll have to watch out for a flamethrower like Terrence Ross, who scored 51 points once in a game. Cameron Payne, who backs up Chris Paul, is also capable of having one of those nights. The Lakers have to show some urgency here, which they seemed to have lacked in some of their last few games.

The Lakers are down to their last 10 games. Every one of them is huge and the Lakers have to make these count and not take these opportunities for granted. They’re certainly capable; now they have to show that they really want this.

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