LeBron James, Lakers Beat Suns in Game 2 to Even Series as Anthony Davis Drops 34

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 26, 2021

PHOENIX, AZ - PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against the Phoenix Suns during Round 1, Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 25, 2021 at Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. 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 2021 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2020 NBA champions have picked up their first postseason victory of 2021. 

With a 109-102 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Phoenix Suns Arena, knotting the best-of-seven series at one apiece.

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BRON. DAGGER. pic.twitter.com/ux2KJ9CqUr

The win temporarily steals home-court advantage from the No. 2 seed in the West as the series shifts to Staples Center for Games 3 and 4. 

After falling 99-90 in Game 1, the Lakers rallied back with strong performances by Dennis Schroder and Andre Drummond alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. After taking a six-point halftime lead, L.A. was able to clamp down in the second half for a bounce-back victory before flying home. 

Notable Performers

LeBron James, SF, Los Angeles Lakers: 23 points, nine assists, four rebounds

Anthony Davis, PF, Los Angeles Lakers: 34 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks

Devin Booker, SG, Phoenix Suns: 31 points, three assists, four turnovers

Deandre Ayton, C, Phoenix Suns: 22 points, 10 rebounds

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AD AND LEBRON ARE TAKING OVER pic.twitter.com/eEJh3J2hmo

Lakers Find Chemistry in Win

The differences from Game 1 to Game 2 weren't that hard to spot on the Lakers, and it had little to do with LeBron James or Anthony Davis. Though Davis slogged through a lackluster performance (13 points, seven rebounds) in Game 1, it was hard to pin the loss on the big man, even if he attempted to do so himself.

Instead, Tuesday's win came down to the contributions of the guys around Davis and James—both in the starting lineup and on the bench.


Sheesh, Bron 😯 pic.twitter.com/rwIR1uerag

The prime example was center Andre Drummond, who finished Game 1 with 12 points and nine rebounds only to put up 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first half alone in Game 2. It wasn't just on offense where the Lakers stepped up, either.

Point guard Dennis Schroder was noticeably more active on defense, jumping into passing lanes and playing through contact in the paint when forced to rotate. Los Angeles forced at least 13 turnovers for the second straight game and handily won the rebounding battle 39-31 after getting particularly exploited there in Game 1 when the Suns took a 47-33 edge on the boards.

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THIS IS PLAYOFF INTENSITY 🍿<br><br>Tune into Game 2 on @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/EdCynI2mMX

It certainly helped, too, that every Lakers starter except Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (no points, four rebounds) scored at least 15 points. That starting unit was heavily relied on for scoring Tuesday with the bench combining for just 13 points in the win.

Rarely will the Lakers pull off a victory with that type of outing from their depth players, but it showed how much of a rhythm the starting unit was in after a lackluster Game 1.

Los Angeles had 24 assists on 36 made field goals in Game 2. If that's the type of chemistry the Lakers can expect for the rest of the postseason, the defending champions may end up as the repeating champions.


AD throws it up..<br>LBJ throws it down.@Lakers lead at halftime on TNT.#NBAPlayoffs x #PhantomCam pic.twitter.com/93y8UiB74C

Payne, Suns Can't Overcome Paul Injury 

James has found himself in individual playoff battles with a wide range of players throughout his career. From Paul Pierce to Kawhi Leonard to Lance Stephenson, James hasn't lacked postseason rivals.

On Tuesday, Cameron Payne tried to add his name to that list, trading buckets with James midway through the second half and helping the Suns erase a 15-point deficit. Phoenix hadn't sniffed the lead since the score read 12-11 in the first quarter. Thanks to Payne's constant heat checks, the Suns were able to jump back on top 90-89 with less than six minutes to play and grab some late momentum—even if it ran out just as quickly.


LeBron and Cam Johnson trading buckets to close out the 3Q! @Lakers by 7 on TNT. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/PEp3kT8sAW

That was especially necessary with Chris Paul's shoulder covered by tape as he tried to play through an injury suffered in Game 1. The veteran guard was on the floor for only 20 minutes through three quarters. He played just three minutes in the fourth.

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CP3 bringing the energy 🔥<br><br>Point god. pic.twitter.com/0uv8aK0F8x

Someone else on the Suns was going to have to help make up the difference without Paul at full strength. It didn't appear Payne (19 points) was going to be that player until he started going shot-for-shot with James. Payne hardly provided an offensive impact through two quarters.

That changed late in the third as he drained three consecutive three-pointers, including two coming immediately after James hit shots behind the arc, though it still wouldn't be enough. Not with the Lakers locking down on defense and keeping the Suns scoreless for nearly a three-minute stretch at the tail end of regulation.

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Book a smooth criminal

As much as the Suns proved they can hang with the Lakers, with or without Paul healthy, Tuesday also showed Phoenix might not be able to beat the champs without Paul's typical contributions.

What's Next

Game 3 is slated for May 27 at 10 p.m. ET on TNT live from Staples Center.