LOS ANGELES, CA — After getting dominated in the paint minus their floor general in point guard Chris Paul, the second-seeded Phoenix Suns bounced back in a key 100-92 win to tie their first round series vs. Los Angeles at 2-2.
After playing 27 minutes and scoring seven points due to a shoulder injury, Paul returned with a vengeance in scoring 18 points, while dishing out nine assists and grabbing three rebounds in 32 minutes.
Paul, along with the starting lineup of the Suns would all score in double figures with the aforementioned Paul leading the way, followed by shooting guard Devin Booker and power forward Jae Crowder adding 17 each, center Deandre Ayton adding 14 points and 17 rebounds with small forward Malik Bridges adding 11.
Cameron Payne would come off the bench and at 13 points.
The story of the game however was the abrupt loss of Anthony Davis, as the Lakers seemingly looked out of sorts following his exit. Arguably the most valuable player on the Lakers roster not named LeBron James, Davis scored six points in 19 minutes before exiting due to a groin injury. With his status for Game 5 uncertain, the Suns have a great chance to seize control of the series and push the injury-riddled defending champions to the brink of elimination.
With Davis out, James led the Purple and Gold with 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes, with reserves in guard Alex Caruso adding 10 points, forward kyle Kuzma adding 11 and backup center Marc Gasol adding 12.
The Lakers also didn’t help their cause Sunday afternoon in committing 15 turnovers, allowing themselves to be outscored 44-36 in the paint and shooting 39.5 percent from the field.
Tied 2-2 and heading back to the Valley, will the defending champions hopes of retaining their crown be heading for a proverbial early sunset in the desert?
We will get a clue to that question after Game 5.