Booker drops 47 as Suns end Lakers’ reign in 6
- Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
- Covered the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.
LOS ANGELES — Anthony Davis could barely move and the Los Angeles Lakers could not move on, seeing their repeat title hopes cut short with a 113-100 loss in Game 6 of their first round series with the Phoenix Suns.
Davis, cleared by L.A.’s medical staff and starting on Thursday after being sidelined since halftime of Game 4 with a strained groin, never looked right. He tweaked the injury mere minutes into the first quarter and was forced to exit early.
Even if he had been healthy, it might not have mattered with the way the Suns, led by star guard Devin Booker’s 47 points, shot the ball.
Phoenix, after winning Game 5 by 30 points, went up by as many as 29 in the first half, picking apart a Los Angeles defense that ranked No. 1 in the league in efficiency before the playoffs.
The second-seeded Suns, who according to the oddsmakers entered the first round as the underdogs against the seventh-seeded Lakers, took it to L.A. from the tip. Jae Crowder connected on a 3 on the Suns’ first possession and lifted his index finger to his lips, suggesting the crowd pipe down.
From there, Phoenix kept making noise on the offensive end, hitting its next three 3s — two more by Crowder and another by Booker — to go up nine in the blink of an eye.
While the Suns got hot, Davis looked shot. On an early cut to the hoop, with Dennis Schroder finding him with an entry pass, the big man winced, shook his head and grabbed at the inside of his left leg after catching the ball.
Not long after, his night was finished after he contested a Booker drive to the hoop just 5:08 into the game and was unable to get back down the floor on offense, hunching over in pain. He made his way toward the Lakers’ bench and, after a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope foul 27 seconds later, took himself out, plopped down on the sideline and dropped his head, his season over.
The Suns were up 36-14 after the first quarter, shooting 13-for-19 as a team (10-for-13 from 3) compared with L.A.’s 6-for-21 mark (2-for-8 from 3).
The defending champs, led by LeBron James — who finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 41 minutes — still managed to make it interesting.
When Caldwell-Pope scored a putback to cut it to 10 with 8 minutes, 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter, it was the closest the Lakers had been since there were four minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the first.
Phoenix followed with a 7-0 run, capped by a Chris Paul jumper, prompting the Phoenix point guard to talk trash, sensing the franchise’s first playoff series win since 2010 was in hand.
L.A. once again cut it to 11 with a Schroder 3 with 4 minutes on the clock, but never was able to get within single digits.
In a way, the Suns series — in which the Lakers went up 2-1, only to lose the next three games — mirrored how the regular season went for L.A. The Lakers raced off to a 21-6 start before Davis, already struggling with Achilles tendinosis in his right leg, suffered a calf cramp against Denver on Valentine’s Day. He’d go on to miss the Lakers’ next 30 games.
In the playoffs, it was Davis’ left leg that let him down, first suffering a knee sprain in Game 3 and then a groin strain in Game 4 that cost him the rest of the series.
James, who pulled off something unprecedented in league history last season — becoming the first player ever to win a Finals MVP with three different franchises — ended his 2020-21 season with some personal history.
It was the first time in his career, in 15 trips to the first round, that he lost.
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