After a convincing victory in Game 1 over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Suns sought to take a two-game lead in the series but fell short, losing to the Lakers 109-102.
Devin Booker led Phoenix with 31 points, while Deandre Ayton had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Cameron Payne had 19 points and seven assists.
Anthony Davis led all players with 34 points, also picking up nine rebounds and seven assists, while LeBron James scored 23 points with four rebounds and nine assists and Dennis Schroder finished with 24 points for the Lakers.
“LeBron and AD made big plays, but we had our chances. The first quarter hurt us. … Today we didn’t get the production in the offensive rebounding we got in the first game,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.
The Suns’ Chris Paul entered the game with a right shoulder contusion he suffered in Game 1, which likely contributed to the All-Star guard only playing about 23 minutes and taking five shots. He finished with just 6 points and five assists and only played a few minutes in the second half.
“It was all me. He was holding it. I just couldn’t watch him run like that. He battled. He’s a warrior; we all know that. I just made a decision to take him out,” Williams said.
Suns forward Jae Crowder picked up two fouls in the first minute of the game, which forced Phoenix to go to their bench earlier than usual. This helped the Lakers to set the tone early in the game, forcing the Suns into seven turnovers and grabbing six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone.
The Suns were able to keep their deficit to 6 (53-47) at halftime, though, with Ayton and Booker combining for 26 first half points.
“I just put my head down, and if they called a foul, they called a foul,” Ayton said. “Still attacking the glass, that’s what I’m good at. Trying to keep my energy throughout the whole game.”
The Lakers built a 13-point lead in the third quarter, but Phoenix never went away and clawed back to take a 1-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, thanks to aggressive play from Booker and Payne. Payne played well in the absence of Paul. But other than Payne, the Suns bench did not provide much production.
“Thinking your job can be gone, it hit me in the face already. I already got hit with that reality check. I don’t want to not be in the league, so I just work really hard every day to stay here,” Payne said.
The Suns hung tough in the second half, but big-time shot making, and the elite defensive ability of the Lakers, allowed Los Angeles to take control of the game late in the fourth.
In Game 1, James and Davis combined for 31 points, but last night, they combined for 57. That type of fire power from the Lakers’ dynamic duo will make it tough for the Suns the rest of the series if they cannot find a way to contain them again like they did in Game 1. Davis also shot 21 free throws.
“One person shot 21 free throws,” Crowder said. “You can’t expect to win a game if one person shoots 21 free throws. We got to do a better job of defending without fouling.”
The extent of Paul’s injury is unknown currently, but Paul was not his usual self, logging almost a season low in minutes and points.
“He’s going to fight,” Booker said. “He’s a warrior out there, and I know he doesn’t want anything more than to win these games. So I know he’s going to do everything in his power to be out there.”
The Suns will head to Los Angeles to play the Lakers at the Staples Center for games 3 and 4 of this Western Conference first-round series. Game 3 is set for 7 p.m. Thursday.