LeBron James Triple-Doubles, Lakers Hold on to Beat Suns After 4th-Quarter Scare

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 2, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 1: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball against the Phoenix Suns on January 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center 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 2020 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers led by as many as 34 points in the second quarter en route to a 117-107 home win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday at Staples Center.

LeBron James posted a 31-point, 13-rebound, 12-assist triple-double, and Anthony Davis scored 15 of his 26 points in the first quarter to go with 11 boards.

Avery Bradley also posted his best game as a Laker with 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting and three steals.

The Lakers led wire-to-wire and scored 27 points in the first six minutes. They opened leads of 43-14 in the first quarter and 66-32 in the second quarter.

But the Suns made a hard charge late in the game, outscoring the Lakers 66-43 in the second half and cutting Los Angeles' lead to 110-103 after a Kelly Oubre two-pointer.

They even had a chance to slash the deficit to 110-106 after a Tyler Johnson three-point attempt.

However, that shot did not fall, and James powered his way into the paint for a layup and a nine-point edge. Phoenix never came closer than seven points from that moment forward.

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Devin Booker led the Suns with 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting. Oubre added 26 points.

The 27-7 Lakers, who recently dropped four straight after a 24-3 start, lead the second-place Denver Nuggets by three games in the Western Conference. They have won three straight.

It was the 13-21 Suns' first loss in three games.

      

Notable Performances

Lakers G/F LeBron James: 31 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists

Lakers F/C Anthony Davis: 26 points, 11 rebounds

Lakers G Avery Bradley: 18 points, 3 steals

Suns G Devin Booker: 32 points, 7 assists

Suns F Kelly Oubre Jr.: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals

Suns C DeAndre Ayton: 16 points, 14 rebounds

          

Lakers Open 2020 with Fireworks Before Holding Off Late Suns Run

The Lakers' first quarter against the Suns looked more like an NBA All-Star Game than a regular-season contest, with L.A. dunking all over Phoenix en route to a 43-17 edge after 12 minutes.

Anthony Davis put Suns center Aron Baynes on a poster, but credit to the Phoenix big man for at least going down with a fight:

Davis dunked with ferocity and finesse, like this backward alley-oop slam off a LeBron James feed:

And LeBron got in on the action too (21-second mark):

That action led Mark Medina of USA Today to provide a relevant question and a notable comment:

James and Davis did whatever they wanted in that opening quarter, combining to shoot 9-of-11 for 22 points, five assists and five rebounds.

The Lakers scored 10 more points in the paint (24) than the Suns did overall.

Davis was outscoring Phoenix 15-14 by himself until Mikal Bridges hit a jumper with 36.3 seconds left.

The Lakers led by as many as 29 and had more than triple the Suns' score at 43-14. Devin Booker was the lone Sun with more than one made field goal (four).

The Lakers also set some season-high marks, per Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times:

But the Suns are better than their 13-21 record implies. They were a respectable 14th in point differential in the league entering Wednesday and have showed serious fight under first-year head coach Monty Williams.

That was evident Wednesday with Phoenix somehow crawling back to within seven points after trailing by 34 in the second quarter. The Suns could have mailed it in and looked forward to their upcoming five-game homestand, but instead, they fought back and gave the Lakers a legitimate scare.

The Suns took home a moral victory after this one, and they're not too far back from the 14-18 San Antonio Spurs for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Perhaps we'll see them giving L.A. some fits in the first round of the postseason in April.

But until then, it's easy to admire what the Lakers did in the first half, even if it wasn't against one of the league's best and even if they stumbled to the finish.

The question now is whether L.A. can roll off another long winning streak.

That's certainly possible given three home games on the docket against the New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks, who have a combined 33-69 record. If the dunks and goodwill continue into the winter, then L.A. can cruise to the West's No. 1 seed well before the regular season ends.

    

What's Next?

The Suns will begin a five-game homestand at Talking Stick Resort Arena with a matchup against the New York Knicks on Friday at 9 p.m. ET.

The Lakers' own five-game homestand will continue against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday at 10:30 p.m.