LeBron James, Lakers Give Fans Hope with Win as Suns Rest Kevin Durant, More

LeBron James, Lakers Give Fans Hope with Win as Suns Rest Kevin Durant, More
Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekTwitter LogoFeatured Columnist IVApril 8, 2023

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 7: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during the game against the Phoenix Suns on April 7, 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been relegated to the play-in tournament just yet.

Los Angeles remained alive in the race for a top-six playoff seed in the Western Conference with a 121-107 victory over the shorthanded Phoenix Suns on Friday at Crypto.com Arena. The Purple and Gold are 5-1 in their last six games and appear to be turning the corner ahead of the postseason.

They didn’t face a team operating on all cylinders, though, as Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and T.J. Warren were all out.

The Lakers countered with a balanced attack, as LeBron James (16 points, six rebounds, six assists), Anthony Davis (14 points and 21 rebounds), D’Angelo Russell (24 points), Austin Reaves (22 points) and Malik Beasley (21 points) were five of six players to score in double figures, which led to plenty of praise on social media:

nico fantástico @nickystarkiller

LeBron James is good at basketball

Billy Reinhardt @BillyReinhardt

D’Angelo Russell has long been one of the smoothest operators in the NBA. Great touch and has one of the purest pregame warmup shows in the league.

Finally, this season DLo’s jump shooting efficiency has taken the leap to elite status. He has become underrated.

claire de lune @ClaireMPLS

this is what my group chat is called pic.twitter.com/ehP7we7Zx3

kingtisemedia @kingtisemedia

Austin Reaves to this point that I be surprised when he misses shots. He makes everything or gets fouled. If he not doing that he’s making a play for somebody

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

Austin Reaves has been terrific once again, up to 19 points on 9 of 12 FG’s with 4 assists in 22 minutes.

His latest bucket put LAL up 4, which is actually their biggest lead tonight, at 89-85 with 1:53 in the 3rd.

Witness King James @WITNESSKJ

Bright spots thus far:

Malik seeing these threes fall.

Austin Reaves is thriving.

DLo playing solid as well.

Playoff Wiggins loading.. @adjust2theg4me

Lebron is COOKIN

GoldenKnight @GoldenKnightGFX

11-0 run with LeBron on the court now lol https://t.co/gwaBA37fof

Aq @aqouraa

Lebron 3 ball coming back in time for the play in

Kareem @Kareem_is_it

The way Reaves has closed the last month or two of the season is so encouraging. Future is bright for that young man.

This was not the heavyweight showdown of superstars once promised with so many sidelined for the Suns. That figured to make things straightforward for the Lakers, especially at home, but that wasn’t the case in the early going.

The visitors set the tone and led at halftime with Cameron Payne aggressively hunting his shot, Josh Okogie hitting from deep and the bench combination of Terrence Ross, Saben Lee and Jock Landale providing a spark. Los Angeles appeared to be going through the motions.

It also didn’t help that Davis and James struggled from the floor, shooting a combined 10-of-31, but Russell, Reaves and Beasley kept the Lakers within striking distance.

Those efforts proved key because the Lakers finally pulled away in the second half. James overcame his early struggles in the fourth quarter with a dunk and a three, Davis dominated on the boards without having to worry about Ayton, and the victors did just enough to make sure the final few minutes weren’t stressful.

It wasn’t the prettiest win of the season, but Los Angeles prevailed without its two stars playing unstoppable basketball. That should give the team and its fans hope amid the final push for playoff positioning.

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