LOS ANGELES – The Lakers opened many fronts on Friday night, with the referees, the fans and among themselves.
The coolest moment of the game came between teammates when Anthony Davis pointed a finger at Dwight Howard’s chest and pushed him into a chair in the second quarter. They had to be divided on the bench.
Meanwhile, the only battle that mattered moved away from them: playing against the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers knocked out in the first round of the playoffs last season brushed them off again with an eyesore – a 115-105 defeat at the Staples Center, dropping their record to 0-2. They were 32 points behind.
After that, it looks like it’s not just the problems on the court that need to be fixed.
The Big Three’s chemistry didn’t quite improve after losing to the Golden State Warriors at the opening of the season on Tuesday. While Russell Westbrook looked more lively with 15 points in 11 rebounds and 9 assists, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have shot 14 of 36 with 47 points. Even when they managed to break into the paint, which happened infrequently, the Lakers missed a number of shots at close range. The Suns surpassed them in paint by 52-26 points.
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers finally did well, using pressure to make concessions. They narrowed the deficit to nine points when Westbrook intercepted and scored a lay-off while being fouled with 1:21 remaining. But the final result was never really in jeopardy.
The Lakers were full of energy from the start, but as the night progressed, they lost their concentration and composure. Westbrook’s initial spurt, with eight points in the first quarter and having a lot of words to the public and Suns star Devin Booker, gave some early hope that the Lakers might be on the right track after their disappointing debut.
That began to change as foul problems grew, with the Lakers having 11 fouls against four at the start of the second quarter, including two fouls each on James, Davis and Westbrook. After Howard was caught in the Suns group while trying to bounce off the attack without a foul, Coach Frank Vogel got angry in the umpire’s ear for a technical foul and looked ready to eat another if necessary.
The fans caught their attitude and chanted: “Ref, you suck!” during the evening. It was unpleasant to turn around in front of Commissioner Adam Silver, who was among the 18,997 sold out spectators.
This fire did not affect the scoreboard in any way: in the second quarter, Phoenix took advantage of the 34-18 advantage. As the Lakers moved down this slide, Davis and Howard set each other up. Howard applauded and cheered for Davis from the sideline in the second half, but he did not return to play after only nine minutes.
The fireworks at the court did not end there: in the third quarter, Rajon Rondo had a falling out with a fan. Rondo motioned him to guard the arena and a fan slapped Rondo on the fingers, causing the fan to blow.
In the midst of the drama, Suns point guard Chris Paul surreptitiously scored 20,000 career points, becoming the only player to cross the plateau to also make over 10,000 assists. On Friday, he had 23 points and 14 assists, and he hit with light precision from an average distance.
He was well supported as the defending Western Conference champions shared the Lakers with 31 assists and 42 field goals: Booker scored 22 points and Miles Bridges 21.
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