LOS ANGELES, CA – Behind an illuminating triple-double perfected by Lebron James, the Los Angeles Lakers posted a 117-107 win against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center on New Year’s Day. James scored a team-high 31 points and led the Lakers in rebounds (13) and assists (12) in the victory.
“We want to continue to get better,” James said after the game. “That’s all a part of our season. We learned from the good things that we did tonight and we learn from some of the things we didn’t do so well.”
The Lakers jumped all over the Suns early in the game, running up a 74-41 halftime lead. The first quarter was what did in Phoenix as the Lakers sprinted out to a 43-17 advantage in the opening period. Forward Anthony Davis scored 15 of his 26 points during the Lakers first quarter blitz. Avery Bradley, chipped in 10 of his 18-point total in the period as well.
So what motivated the Lakers to come out with such offensive intensity in that first quarter?
“Energy,” Davis said. “I feel like we came out with a lot of energy, a lot of pace. We were playing defense. When we play like that and we’re running and guys are having fun, making shots, playing with a lot of confidence, we’re a tough team to beat. But we’ve got to do that for four quarters.”
As impressive as the Lakers were in that blistering first half, Los Angeles hit a lull in the second part of the game when Phoenix rebounded from their poor shooting in the opening stanza and outscored them, 76-43, to make things interesting down the stretch.
“I think we just [took] our foot off the gas and ran out of gas at the same time,” said Kyle Kuzma, who finished the game with 19 points. “We got a little complacent, played a little bit one-on-one. We were stagnant on offense. We didn’t have the same defensive edge that we had to start the game and you know, that happens … No matter who it is in the NBA, they might come back and win.”
The Suns were trying to ride that comeback wave until they ran out of gas after cutting the Lakers’ huge lead down to just seven points in the fourth quarter.
“When you’re fighting back from a 30-point lead all game it’s tough,” Phoenix guard Devin Booker said. “You can easily run out of gas, but I liked the way we played in the second half. But it’s tough fighting an uphill battle. Time is against you and you’re playing desperation basketball, but I like the way we played well in the second half for sure.”
L.A. Lakers versus Phoenix Suns