Devin Booker Powers Suns to Game 1 Win over LeBron James, Anthony Davis, LakersMay 23, 2021
Welcome back to the postseason, Phoenix.
The Suns returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season and didn't disappoint, beating LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers 99-90 in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series.
This one had a bit of everything. An electric Phoenix crowd. Both Chris Paul and James battling through shoulder injuries suffered during the game. A wild sequence in the fourth quarter that saw multiple technical fouls and a Cameron Payne ejection. Deandre Ayton playing like a wily old veteran.
Oh, and Devin Booker going off in the first half:
And this is just a first-round series. After Sunday's fantastic and dramatic contest, it's looking like it could be an all-timer.
Devin Booker, PHX: 34 points, eight assists, seven rebounds
Deandre Ayton, PHX: 21 points, 16 rebounds, one block
Chris Paul, PHX: Seven points, eight assists
LeBron James, LAL: 18 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, three steals
Anthony Davis, LAL: 13 points, seven rebounds, three blocks
Andre Drummond, LAL: 12 points, nine rebounds
Devin Booker Was the Best Player on the Court
There were so many storylines for Phoenix from Sunday afternoon. Paul's struggles after the shoulder injury. The huge free-throw disparity (28-12 in favor of the Lakers). Ayton coming up huge for the Suns on the low block. Phoenix's excellent defensive effort. Cameron Johnson giving the team a scoring boost off the bench.
But in a game featuring some of the NBA's brightest stars, Booker was incandescent.
There's an argument to be made that the Lakers have the two best players in this series in James and Davis. But Booker was the man Sunday.
If he continues to play at this level, Phoenix is going to be a tough out, even for the defending champs.
The Lakers Need More from Anthony Davis
The Lakers have a center conundrum. Playing with Davis at the 5 is clearly L.A.'s best option, though the team justifiably doesn't want him getting beaten up constantly in the post.
Fair enough. But the Lakers are generally clunkier with Andre Drummond on the floor and worse on defense with Montrezl Harrell. Marc Gasol has become the forgotten man.
Granted, Davis was just poor no matter where he played Sunday, finishing 5-of-16 from the floor. Whether at the 4 or 5, he needs to be better, especially when it continues to appear as though James just isn't quite fully back up to speed after missing 26 games with a high ankle sprain this year.
The Lakers need more from Davis. They need him to play like a superstar. They need him to outplay Ayton. Phoenix is too good for the Lakers to overcome mediocre performances from their stars.
Game 2 will be in Phoenix on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.