LOS ANGELES – After beating the Lakers 114-104 Tuesday without their leading scorer and All-Star Devin Booker down the stretch, the Phoenix Suns said they put a stamp of legitimacy on their season.
“I think Jae Crowder said it best: we improved tonight,” Suns coach Monty Williams said after the game. “You gain confidence when a guy like Book doesn’t play or gets thrown around and you can take a game out on the road at the end of a trip. That’s a recipe for mail-in, and this group has shown a lot of stamina. But that was a great one character victory, and we get better.
“I think we played well tonight, but we are probably more confident that we can pull off a game without Devin or Chris. [Paul] saving the day. ”
Booker was sent off for committing two technical fouls with 7:10 remaining in the third quarter and Phoenix leading 70-63. Booker had 17 points at the time to lead the Suns.
“Booker received his first technical foul for continually complaining and then he received his second technical foul, and according to the rule he was sent off, for directing profane language to a game official,” crew chief Marc Davis told ESPN as part of a report. group after the game.
The Lakers, playing without Anthony Davis for the eighth straight game due to right leg injuries and also without starting center Marc Gasol (health and safety protocols) and Kyle Kuzma (bruised right heel), naturally viewed the ejection as an opportunity to re-enter. the contest. But the Suns doubled their lead from seven to 14 within three minutes of the fourth without Booker.
“I don’t know if it was a big effect, other than that we felt we had a chance to win a game where we were down,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “It was not so”.
The victory capped a 3-0 trip for Phoenix and improved the Suns’ record to 15-3 in their last 18 games. They also surpassed Los Angeles in the rankings, climbing to No. 2 in the Western Conference with the victory.
“We’re just trying to get better each and every game, but I honestly felt like we got better today,” said Crowder, who, with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, was one of five Suns to score in double digits. . “I got to the locker room and said that to the guys. Booker left in the third quarter and we could have doubled up or faced the challenge, and we decided to face the challenge.”
The Phoenix bench outperformed Los Angeles reserves 38-27, and the Suns shot 16 of 29 from line 3 (55.2%) compared to the Lakers’ 11 of 31 mark from deep (35.5%).
“I can’t be very happy on the farm, man,” Suns forward Mikal Bridges said. “We know what we are doing; we know that we are improving. We just have to keep progressing and improving.
“Any team can be beaten, and if we relax, there are a lot of tough teams. Even teams without great records are going to play hard, so we have to keep improving, not relax and keep playing our way.”
Phoenix has one more game before the All-Star break, at home against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.