Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs. Suns – Game 43


The Los Angeles Lakers learned what life without LeBron James will be like on Sunday night as although they battled, they came up short against the Phoenix Suns, falling 111-94.


Lakers vs Suns  
Photo Credit: United News Post

The Lakers got off to a predictably rough start as they had issues covering the Suns jump shooters, while on the other end had trouble getting a good look. Kyle Kuzma scored from the perimeter, but Phoenix continued to execute offensively and built an early 19-11 lead.

L.A. finally seemed to settled after Dennis Schroder made his way to the cup for layups, while defensively, they finally earned a couple of stops to close the gap. The bench unit did a good job of pushing the tempo and keeping the game competitive, but the Lakers found themselves trailing 31-26 after one quarter.


Montrezl Harrell and Alex Caruso got the Lakers within one possession on several occasions with their play on both ends, but Phoenix answered to keep them at bay. Devontae Cacok got a rare chance to enter the game, collecting an offensive rebound, putback and steal but the Suns remained comfortably ahead.


 Lakers vs Suns  
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix broke open the game with a 20-5 run that was ignited by Devin Booker, who simply carved up the Los Angeles defense. Kuzma was able to knock down a three in the final minutes, but the Purple and Gold went into the half down 59-44 as to no surprise, scoring was an issue without their star players.

Schroder got off to a hot shooting start in the third as he scored the first eight points for the Lakers off jumpers. Los Angeles was able to briefly bring the game to within nine points, but the Suns reeled off another run to go back up 16.

Harrell once again carried the offense, scoring at and around the basket to keep the Lakers within striking distance. The bench’s effort was admirable, but L.A. faced a 88-76 hole heading into the final period.

Los Angeles showed signs of life as Talen Horton-Tucker knifed into the lane for easy scores while defensively strung together a couple of stops to build momentum. Schroder ignited the Lakers with his defensive energy and scoring, willing the team back to single digits.

However, Chris Paul made sure the game never got out of hand by orchestrating the Suns’ offense and coming up with a pair of steals to give his team separation. They were then able to pull away late in the fourth to close out the victory.


Lakers news and notes:


The Lakers turned to Damian Jones to fill significant minutes with Anthony Davis out with a lower leg injury despite being on a 10-day contract. They decided not to give Jones a third 10-day contract.

Jones, who had already signed two 10-day contracts though with the second expiring this weekend, and he was not eligible for a third, leaving a rest-of-season contract or letting him go as the only 2 options for the Lakers. Jones has more than three years of NBA service time, so he cannot be signed to a two-way contract.


 Lakers vs Suns  
Photo Credit: Silver Screen and Roll

The Lakers took a calculated risk by trading for Dennis Schroder on an expiring contract. The goal in acquiring him was to boost their 2021 championship hopes and land a long-term point guard to one day replace LeBron James as their lead ball-handler. Schroder’s play this season has warranted such a lofty long-term goal, but it won’t matter if the Lakers can’t sign him to an extension. He has already rejected multiple offers, and on Thursday, he indicated that he expects the Lakers to pay him market value if they plan to keep him.

“I want to be a Laker for a long time,” Schroder said, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I just want it to be fair.” In the early portion of the season, that wasn’t even possible. Because the Lakers dealt for Schroder during the offseason, the Lakers were restricted by the league’s extend-and-trade rules. Those rules only allow for two new seasons to be added to an existing contract, and they limit raises to only five percent of the player’s present salary. For Schroder, that meant only $33.4 million over the next two seasons. There was no way he was ever going to sign such a small deal.

The Lakers wouldn’t have given up a first-round pick for Schroder if they didn’t plan to re-sign him. Schroder would be unlikely to find another championship contender capable of paying him as much as the Lakers. An extension, either now or in the offseason, makes sense for all parties involved. But Schroder has made it clear that he isn’t planning on taking a major hometown discount. If the Lakers want to bring him back, they’re going to have to pay him what he’s worth.


The Lakers travel to New orleans to face off against the Pelicans. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30 pm. It is a national game, so you can catch the game on Spectrum SportsNet and on TNT.

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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

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