Lakers seek strong finish to season’s first half vs. Suns

Lakers seek strong finish to season’s first half vs. Suns

Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel says getting to the All-Star break on a high note is an obvious challenge. The Lakers will attempt to answer one of those tests before the recess Monday when they host the Phoenix Suns.

With All-Star weekend approaching, Vogel says it’s a trial for some players to stay focused knowing that some time off is upon them.

«This whole stretch, from New Year’s to All-Star break, is kind of the dog days of the NBA season, and you have to fight the monotony on a daily basis,» Vogel told the media after Saturday’s 125-120 win over the Golden State Warriors. «But we’ve got two big games coming up. We’ve got to lock in and try to get Ws.»

The Lakers prevailed over the Warriors despite committing 24 turnovers. They also almost blew a 21-point lead late in the contest before closing out the decision. Anthony Davis had 27 points and 10 rebounds to help overcome the miscues, while LeBron James finished with 22 points, 11 assists and eight boards. James committed a game-high seven turnovers.

The Lakers, who had seven players score in double figures, also got a boost from guard Avery Bradley, who contributed 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-7 3-pointers.

«Not our best win, not a pretty win but it’s a win and we did enough down the stretch to secure the victory,» Vogel said. «You hope you play a little better, a little less sloppy… but at least we were able to get the W.»

The Suns have dropped five of their last six.

The latest setback occurred Saturday, when they lost 117-108 to the visiting Denver Nuggets. Deandre Ayton led Phoenix with 28 points and 19 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. Devin Booker finished with 21 points and nine assists and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 20 points and six boards.

The Suns were playing the second of back-to-back games. On Friday, they crushed the Houston Rockets, 127-91, behind a career-high 39 points from Oubre.

The stellar outing coincided with the passing of the NBA trade deadline. Oubre had been rumored to be on the move but he denied it had anything to do with his motivation against the Rockets.

«Just another game for me. Got to go out there and do my job,» said Oubre, who connected on 7 of 9 3-pointers and 14 of 19 shots from the floor to top his previous high of 32 points last season against the New Orleans Pelicans.

«I had a hot hand tonight and my guys did a good job of finding me, and we played the right way.»

Injuries have plagued the Suns. They have been playing without forwards Aron Baynes (left hip soreness), Frank Kaminsky III (patella stress fracture), Dario Saric (ankle) and guard Tyler Johnson (knee).

The last time the two clubs met on Jan. 1, the Lakers defeated the Suns 117-107. James had a triple-double, finishing with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.

Both clubs close out their first-half campaigns Wednesday. Los Angeles visits Denver, while Phoenix host Golden State.

–Field Level Media