Lakers vs. Suns Bottom Line: Patrick Beverley retired because he struggled in the loss

The Lakers fall to the Suns 115-105 after another great performance by Devin Booker. He had 25 points the night before fouling with just over a minute left, but the Suns didn’t need that last minute from him to extend their winning streak over the Lakers to eight games.

With LeBron James ruled out, Darvin Ham opted for the same starters who have won the last three games. With Phoenix at home and the second-best record in the West, many thought this would be an easy win for the Suns. In the first quarter, the Lakers quieted that noise. They were down just four to one, with Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Lonnie Walker IV all playing well in the quarter. The rebound fight was tied at 14, and if Booker hadn’t gotten hot in the middle of the frame and hadn’t been for a couple of threes from Mikal Bridges, the Lakers might have had the lead.

But they didn’t, and found themselves in familiar territory as they entered the second. Would they play like they did during the three-game winning streak, or fold now that they’re playing against a winning team? It was more like the former. The mainly benched unit of Gabriel, Westbrook, Walker, Thomas Bryant and Austin Reaves held their ground while Anthony Davis got some much-needed rest. AD returned at 5:08 and continued to be productive, scoring 7 points points in the quarter. He had a fright when his left arm/wrist collided with Devin Booker but returned after a time out and appeared fine.

Do you know who was more than okay? Lonnie Walker IV and Russell Westbrook. Walker dunked the basketball, finished layups near the rim and had 6 points on six shots at the half. Russ’s sixth man of the year campaign was alive and well in the first half, producing 7 points and 3 assists in his 14 minutes. Thanks to that team effort, the Lakers ended the quarter on an 18-6 run and went 55-53 at halftime.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the third quarter got off to a rocky start, as was typical for them. Phoenix came out with a 10-2 run led by Booker, who was just too much for Reaves or any Laker to cover.

With Davis still noticeably plagued by his left arm injury, the rest of the team struggled to score. It wasn’t until the middle of the third race that Walker started heating up again, and an aggressive AD kept coming to the line, ending strong in the paint. Down as much as ten points in the third, the Lakers came roaring back. The NBA is a running game, however, and the Suns countered and finished the third strong. Phoenix took the fourth and got into the fourth at 86-79.

In the final quarter, the Lakers could never catch up. Phoenix extended their lead by as much as 12 points, and to the Lakers’ honor, they never folded. They were down to six midway through the period, but the most impressive thing that happened in the neighborhood was Patrick Beverly’s sacking (and possibly his pending suspension). He checked Deandre Ayton, who received a tech for his taunt at Austin Reaves, who was badly fouled by Devin Booker, who also received a flagrant in that exchange. The benches didn’t clear, but there was a lot of pushing and pushing from players on both sides. It wasn’t the first — and likely won’t be the last — time that Phoenix has been, or will be, involved in such a situation during the season.

The flagrant calls helped keep the Lakers in the game a few more minutes, but only delayed the inevitable. Despite another phenomenal game by Anthony Davis, the Lakers again failed to win in Phoenix.

key to take away

Anthony Davis is good at basketball. Flirting with career numbers in points and rebounds, he’s finally showing the courage and availability the Lakers have desperately needed from him over the past two seasons. He won’t play all 82 like he dreamed of at the start of the season, but he’s played 15 of the 16 games and it’s hard to imagine asking more of him. There wasn’t a lot of positives for the Lakers this season, but AD was a franchise player.

Next up for the Lakers is a back-to-back matchup against the Spurs, which begins Friday. The injury report will be monitored by all Lakers Nation as hopefully LeBron James can return and we get confirmation that Anthony Davis’ injury today is nothing special.

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