LOS ANGELES, CA – After finding their groove in a dominating 109-95 win over the second-seeded Phoenix Suns, can the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers continue to dominate and bully the younger Suns?
The Lakers, thanks to 61 combined points from their starting frontcourt of Anthony Davis (34 points, 11 rebounds) LeBron James (21 points, nine assists and six rebounds) and center Andre Drummond (six points, 11 rebounds) established control of Game 3—and possibly the series in dominating the paint and establishing a physical presence.
Phoenix, led by former top overall pick, Deandre Ayton 22 points and 11 rebounds, scored a combined 38 points with Malik Bridges adding six points, three rebounds and Jae Crowder adding another nine points, three rebounds and two assists. With a clearly hobbled and compromised Chris Paul scoring a mere seven points in 27 minutes, it was clear that the Suns were not equipped to handle the Lakers inside onslaught.
While shooting guard Devin Booker added 19 points in 41 minutes, the league’s newest breakout star struggled in going 1-4 from three-point range and 6-19 from the field in 41 minutes.
Unless the higher-seeded Suns can find an answer to the bigger and stronger Lakers inside game—which got a boost from the outside thanks to German point guard Dennis Schroder and his 20 points on 6-11 shooting from the field, then the Suns run the risk of being eliminated by the lower-seeded Lakers.
Many already know that the Lakers are no real No.7 seed, and that the defending champions are nursing a wide array of nagging injuries coming into the playoffs, but if Game 3 was any indication, then Los Angeles is beginning to hit their pre-LBJ ankle injury stride, which could prove to be bad news, not only for the Suns, but the rest of the NBA as well.