The Phoenix Suns shot 16 three-pointers to defeat the outmanned Los Angeles Lakers 114-104. Forward Kyle Kuzma (right heel contusion) and center Marc Gasol (health and safety protocol) did not compete in the contest.
Lakers forward LeBron James scored 38 points, forward Markieff Morris, and Alex Caruso made six rebounds. Forward Dario Saric scored 21 points and forward Mikal Bridges made six rebounds.
Suns head coach Monty Williams attributed the win to his bench players.
“Our bench was huge for us, especially on this trip,” he said. “[Cameron Payne] gave us some energy tonight. … it was a strange game. When they went small, we tried to pound them inside, but it made the game a bit murky.”
Lakers center Montrezl Harrell started in the matchup. Head coach Frank Vogel noted that Harrell is “a terrific player on both sides of the ball.”
“When a team plays with smaller lineups, you have to choose that battle,” Vogel said. “Are you gonna try to punish them on the offensive end, pick-and-rolls and post-ups or are you gonna try to minimize the three-ball.”
The Suns struck fast, hitting the Lakers with three-pointers throughout the first quarter. Forward Markieff Morris and James fought for rebounds. The Phoenix defense suffocated center Montrezl Harrell in the paint. The Suns had six three-point shots at the end of the first quarter.
Guard Talen Horton-Tucker dropped eight points on Phoenix in the first three minutes of the second phase. The reigning NBA champs forced turnovers, helping get within one point. A bucket from James would give the Lakers their first lead of the night.
After a few lead switches, guard Devin Booker spearheaded an 8-3 run. Forward Mikal Bridges hit a buzzer-beating three to give the Suns a seven-point advantage going into halftime.
Three Lakers were in double digits at this point and were perfect (7 of 7) from the free-throw line.
Both teams received technical fouls in the third phase. Booker received a double tech and was ejected. The Lakers also endured foul trouble and struggled to defend DeAndre Ayton.
Phoenix kept their edge over the Lakers with their sound three-point shooting. This helps them get a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. Lakers players missed key three-pointers down the stretch as the Suns executed shots on the charity stripe and on the field.
Forward Mikal Bridges mentioned how their success from downtown came from his teammates finding each other.
“That’s a lot of trust with each other and that’s how we are as a team,” Bridges said. “We’re aggressive, all confident and to be ready to let it go.”
The Lakers now head up north to battle the Sacramento Kings on March 3 at 7:00P.M.