The Los Angeles Lakers hit a snag in their playoffs run as forward Anthony Davis was sidelined with a groin strain during their game three bout against the Phoenix Suns. Davis played for 19 minutes and scored six points.
Davis is on day-to-day status with his injury, it is unclear whether he will play in game five.
To add insult to injury, Suns guard Chris Paul stepped up despite his shoulder injury and scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half. This almost did not happen as head coach Monty Williams considered benching him for the contest.
“[Paul] was like ”coach, let me start and if I look a certain way, and you don’t feel I’m looking like I normally do, then take me out,”” said Suns head coach Monty Williams. “We just had a meeting of the minds and just decided to trust the player in this situation.”
Bench players, like guard Ben McLemore and center Montrezl Harrell, saw playing time during the matchup. However, it was a challenge for the Lakers to adjust from their original gameplan.
“Obviously, we’re tailoring me to one type of basketball,” said Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma. “We had to kind of figure out more on the fly how we’re going to execute offensively and what’s our DNA going to be without [Davis].”
A defensive tactic the Suns took on was to crowd the paint with a hope to deprive the Lakers of offensive rebounds.
“We crashed a glass, we kept them off the line,” said Suns guard Cameron Payne. “They’ve been beating us up on the offensive glass … we knew we had to make them shoot threes.”
Despite their efforts, the Lakers grabbed 10 rebounds and landed 13 three-point shots. Center Marc Gasol led the Lakers in three-pointers made with three. He was one of three Lakers reserves who scored in the double digits.
The Lakers also struggled offensively, shooting at a whopping 39.5 percent from the field.
“We’re getting some great looks,” Lakers forward LeBron James said. “They were giving us some good looks and we’re just not knocking them down.”
James also mentioned how his teammates will trust each other and trust the pass. With both Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (knee contusion) possibly out, the rest of the Lakers squad will have to have the ‘next man up’ mentality if they want to survive. James is ready for the challenge.
“For me, it’s putting our team in to be successful, it starts with my approach, it stars with my accountability, it trickles down to everybody else,” he said. “These shoulders were built for a reason and if it takes for me to put some more on top of it, then so be it.”