The Lakers improve to five games above .500 for the first time since 2013 with a Sunday matinee victory over the Phoenix Suns inside Staples Center. The Lakers’ second-quarter turnaround was ignited by Michael Beasley, who finished with a season-high 14 points and four rebounds.
“My teammates make it easy,” said Beasley, who has been eased into the team’s rotation over the last few games. “[We have] some funny guys to be around, especially [Kyle Kuzma].”
Beasley’s performance made him just the sixth player in the league this season to have at least 14 points in 14 minutes or less.
“Huge spark, huge spark. [In the] first quarter we were terrible,” reflected LeBron James, who finished with 22 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds.
The Lakers bounced back from a sloppy first quarter marred by six turnovers in less than six minutes. Half of Los Angeles’ eight turnovers were committed by James as the Suns outpaced the Lakers 31-21 in the first quarter.
“Our starting lineup got into a slow start,” James continued. “Our second unit came in, Beas, he started it.”
Beasley entered the game in the second quarter and scored five straight points, in addition to an assist to Ingram for three that tied the game at 31 with 10 minutes left in the first half. Kuzma scored 15 first-half points on his way to being the Lakers’ leading scorer on the night as he tallied 23 points along with eight rebounds.
“If you watch how the season progresses, I have been getting better and better every single game, just making the effort,” Kuzma said of his defensive play. “I just want to be a complete player. All great players do it on both ends.”
The Suns’ missed Devin Booker for the remainder of the game after he injured his hamstring chasing down a loose ball out of bounds as Los Angeles outscored Phoenix 40-15 in the second quarter. Elie Okobo started the second half in place of Booker.
Lakers started the final quarter with a 21-point lead, 95-74, over the Suns. The Lakers had amassed such a large lead that Walton elected to sit Kuzma and James for the final quarter. Lakers’ rookies Moritz Wagner, who was selected 25th overall, and Svi Mykhailiuk, who went 47th in the second round of this year’s draft, entered the game.
Wagner, the first-year player out of Germany, scored his first points in the NBA at the free throw line. He followed that up by a scoring a driving layup to put his team up by 31 points. The Lakers bench erupted following the rookie’s first NBA field goal. He notched 10 points.
“I think it speaks to the culture our team has and the guys we have,” Lakers coach Luke Walton commented. “Obviously, it’s exciting any time a rookie gets their first points, but if you looked at our bench you would have seen the other bigs – and bigs take pride in this, JaVale [McGee] and Tyson [Chandler] jumping up and hitting the floor because they really are excited for him.”
After a slight setback with the 32-point loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers rebounded to win the team’s third straight contest in four days including the final 120-96 win over the Suns.