Sport Lakers vs. Suns Preview and Game Thread: A rematch between playoff foes
The Lakers Are Going All In
Already a title contender with two superstars, the Lakers added a third in the mercurial Russell Westbrook, plus a slew of new fill-ins. Will that gamble pay off? View the original article to see embedded media.The 2021–22 NBA season tips off on Oct. 19, and between now and then the Crossover staff will be analyzing all of the biggest story lines ahead of what promises to be an unforgettable campaign. You can find our NBA preview stories here.It’s the biggest question. It’s perhaps the only question: Why? It was just last October when the Lakers were celebrating their 17th NBA championship.
On Tuesday, thedropped to the . The team led for all of the second and third quarters of the game before slowly letting the lead go in the final frame as they were not able to overcome Russell Westbrook’s terrible debut or their defensive miscues. They’ll now look to turn the page on that disappointing game as they welcome the into town in search of their first win.
The Suns will also be coming into Friday’s game winless as they also let go of a lead. Nikola Jokic and his team won 110-98 in that one after the Suns had as large as a 16-point lead right before halftime.
Lakers' LeBron James gushes over Kendrick Nunn: 'I just love his competitive nature'
Nunn finished Friday night’s loss to the Warriors with 13 points, four rebounds and an assist in 27 minutes off the bench. Those figures serve as quite the stark contrast to Westbrook’s totals for the day — two points, seven rebounds, four assists and six turnovers on 1-of-7 shooting in 17 minutes of action.Beyond his praise for Nunn, James also got brutally honest about the adjustment the Lakers must make ASAP this season.It’s still early days, and there’s plenty of time for the Lakers to turn into the team many expected them to be this year. So far, though, they aren’t looking particularly formidable.
The Lakers and Suns, obviously, met in the first round of the 2021, with the Suns eliminating the Lakers in six games. They prevailed despite the Lakers leading 2-1 early in the series as everything went downhill for the purple-and-gold after Anthony Davis left Game 4 early with a groin injury. He was sidelined save for a brief cameo in the decisive Game 6 where he left only minutes into the first quarter due to the injury.
The Suns have nearly the same roster as last season — although newcomer JaVale McGee will be familiar to us Lakers fans — while the Lakers are on the opposite end of the spectrum with only three players from that first round series returning.
Let’s take a look at what has gone wrong for the brand new Lakers so far as we figure out what could be fixed in this game against the Suns to get something in the win column.
Ben Simmons thrown out of practice, suspended for Sixers' season-opener
Point guard Ben Simmons still hasn't been traded, but he won't suit up with his teammates in New Orleans. © Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons According to multiple reports, Simmons has been suspended for one game. Simmons has been suspended by the 76ers for their season opener in New Orleans on Wednesday. https://t.co/7EwmorroUi— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 19, 2021 The 76ers say Ben Simmons has been suspended for one game for “detrimental conduct” to the team. Simmons will not play the 76ers’ season opener at New Orleans Wednesday night.
What to do with Russell Westbrook?
The story of the Lakers’ game against the Warriors. He was a game-worst -23 in 35 minutes played, shooting 4-of-13 from the field and ending with eight points, five rebounds, four assists, and four turnovers.
It was a game where every Westbrook-related-worry in the offseason reared its ugly head into some monstrous, grueling nightmare. It was timely given Halloween being right around the corner, but untimely for the Lakers and the pursuit of their first win. He even went 0-for-4 from three,.
After the game,mentally as he was really disgruntled about the debut in front of his hometown fans. However, he seems to be right back to being fun ole’ Russ prior to Friday’s game against the Suns.
Lakers vs. Suns odds, line, spread: 2021 NBA picks, Oct. 22 predictions from model on 100-66 roll
SportsLine's model has locked in its NBA picks and predictions for Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles LakersMar 4, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) reacts after scoring during the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
“He was himself as a person and on the floor,” Anthony Davis said about Westbrook after Thursday’s practice. “He got some post-ups where he scored, some dribble backdowns where he scored, some dribble pull-ups off glass — his go-to — where he scored. He was talking s--- to everybody and all that. He was his normal self and it was good to see that.”
Despite Westbrook knowing the town of Los Angeles possibly more than any other player on this roster, it’s been a while since he’s been on a team that has the public eye on it as much as the Lakers (this is definitely the case when compared to his time in Oklahoma City).
“He had a day to kind of just reflect, get over it, flush it and then come back to practice and get back to being himself,” Davis continued. “Hopefully, it carries over to tomorrow where he can be Russell Westbrook.”
about wanting Westbrook to “be himself” following Tuesday’s loss while referencing plays where Westbrook would pass when a perfectly good lay-up or dunk was there. This will (hopefully) be one of his worst games this season as he gets more comfortable with his surrounding teammates, which should result in him having a better understanding of when the time is right to pass or not.
Lakers' LeBron James out Tuesday vs. Spurs with sore ankle
The Lakers will be back on the court Wednesday for a matchup at the Thunder, so Vogel may rest LeBron until at least Friday's home game versus the Cavaliers.Lakers coach Frank Vogel understandably isn't taking any chances regarding the long-term health of the four-time champion.
However, in addition to adjustments needing to be made by Westbrook himself, Frank Vogel may need to make some adjustments with the four players he surrounds Russ with.was one featuring Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Westbrook, and Rajon Rondo. The lineup , ending the night with a -13 plus/minus over only 4 minutes played. Although Davis was out there, that’s a very poor defensive lineup that also has some spacing issues given Rondo and Westbrook’s shooting deficiencies.
After Avery Bradley had a positive impact in his surprise 4th quarter appearance, he may get inserted in that type of quarter closing lineup given his point-of-attack defense and overall familiarity with Frank Vogel’s system. Austin Reaves may even get thrown out there after showing some defensive flashes in the preseason (he did not play in Tuesday’s game).
Look out for Anthony Davis
All of that negativity aside, it was great to see Anthony Davis perform so well against the Warriors after his injury-riddled 2020-21 season that ended in — you guessed it — injury. He had 33 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal, only getting outscored in the game by one LeBron James (34 points).
He only played 36 games last year, but his highest-scoring game came against the Suns when he had 42 points. It was a May 9th game, a game you might remember forafter scoring the decisive bucket in the Lakers’ 123-110 win. This was exactly two weeks before the Lakers started the first round series against the Suns, as the game gave fans confidence that the team could be able to handle the Suns despite AD and LeBron continuing to ramp up from their season’s injuries.
NBA Power Rankings: Undefeated Jazz, Warriors, Bulls on top; Lakers, Nets, Suns struggle out of the gate
The NBA power structure isn't exactly following expectations after the first weekWell, if the first week is any indication, that is certainly not the case for this season. The preseason championship favorite Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers are both off to subpar starts, while teams like the Chicago Culls, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Washington Wizards find themselves among the league's best after a little over a week of competition.
We all know that didn’t work out, but AD still had a pretty successful series before going down with the groin injury. He came out of the gates slow with only 13 points in Game 1 in a Lakers loss, following that up with 34 points each in Games 2 and 3. He was an overwhelming force to the Suns in those games, notching 21 and 14 free-throw attempts in Games 2 and 3, respectively.
We’ll see if he and LeBron can bridge two dominant performances in a row. If that happens, and Westbrook can get past some possible first-night jitters while contributing to the cause in typical Russ fashion, Lakers may just go into the weekend with their first win.
Notes and Updates:
- Kendrick Nunn will be OUT for this game. He missed the final games of the preseason due to a right ankle sprain and missed Tuesday’s opener with the same injury. It was revealed after Thursday’s practice that he was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his knee and that he will be .
- Wayne Ellington will also be OUT. He too missed the final games of the preseason and the opener, although his hamstring strain isn’t expected to keep him out for too much longer.
- The Suns don’t have any injuries to note except Dario Saric who will be out most of (if not all) of this season after tearing his ACL in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
The Lakers and Suns will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. PT on Friday night. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN, but you can also catch it locally on Spectrum SportsNet.
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