5 takeaways from Phoenix Suns fifth straight win over Los Angeles Lakers

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  • Devin Booker
    Devin Booker
    American basketball player

LOS ANGELES – The Phoenix Suns proved they don't need to play their best game to beat the Los Angeles Lakers.

They shot just 12-of-41 from 3, trailed by double figures in the first half, but took control in the second half of an 108-90 road win Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Devin Booker scored a team-high 24, matching a career-high for made 3s with six to lead eight players in double figures. In his second game back after missing seven with a left hamstring strain, Booker added nine rebounds and seven assists.

Deandre Ayton posted a double-double of 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and 11 rebounds as the Suns (25-5) once again have the NBA's best record.

Here are five takeaways from Tuesday's game, in which the Suns scored 52 points in the paint.

1. Balance

It's how the Suns can overcome 15 turnovers.

It's why they're so difficult to handle on the offensive end.

It's what leads to them having defensive floor balance so they don't give up transition bucket after transition bucket.

That's why Chris Paul can be back and draw a charge on LeBron James.

The Suns have shown the ability to overcome poor shooting and turnovers to beat a team led by James by 18 points after leading by as many as 22.

No wonder they have the NBA's best record.

2. The Lakers need James to have career games to really compete with the Suns

He scored a game-high 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting and the Lakers lost by 18.

James always has impacted the game with his passing as well as his scoring.

So when he has just two assists, it shows just where the Lakers are as far what they have around him. They shot 39.1% from the field, going 7-of-35 from 3.

Talon Horton-Tucker was 1-of-13, going 0-for-8 from 3 in scoring three points..

Isaiah Thomas shot 1-of-11 (0-of-6 from 3) for just three points.

They've got names, but James is at a point in his career where he can't keep his foot on the offensive gas for 40-plus minutes.

He can do it in spurts, but that won't work against Phoenix.

The Suns have too much firepower and it's balanced.

Booker can go for 40, but he can also score 16 and the Suns win by 30 because they've won games with eight players scoring double figures.

So as great as James is, Anthony Davis is truly their X-factor against Phoenix.

Without him Tuesday night, Phoenix simply was too much for the Lakers.

3. Deandre Ayton started 5-of-5 for 11 points before Monty Williams decided to take him out for JaVale McGee with 3:48 left in the first quarter.

Didn't seem tired, but Williams stuck with the rotation that has McGee check in during the first quarter. Truth be told, McGee usually comes in earlier in the first.

However, Ayton had it rolling. The Lakers didn't have an answer.

The Suns were up 18-14 at the time, but ended up down one at the end of the first.

Now, McGee has been a huge addition for the Suns. He grabbed five rebounds, two more than Ayton, in a little more than four minutes and added a block in the first.

With that being said, this was the game for Williams to ride Ayton the whole first quarter, start McGee to open the second and bring Ayton back, say, midway through the second.

Ayton wound up with 19. McGee added 10 and 10.

So the rotation worked, but man, Ayton had it rolling.

4. Russell Westbrook not only plays fast and with pace, but he plays physical.

It takes more than a minute to adjust to it because he's attacking the rim.

So that's partly why the Suns had issues containing him in the first quarter, but as the game progressed, Phoenix started using defensive angles to keep him in front.

In other words, the Suns started playing more disciplined in defending Westbrook's drives. That led to Bridges blocking his shot in the lane.

For some reason, Westbrook's pull-up jumper has abandoned him this season. So it's either 3, which isn't his thing, or all the way to the basket.

Defend the drive better, it leads to him scoring just two points in the second quarter.

Westbrook finished with 22 , 10 rebounds and five assists, but the numbers didn't impact the game at level the Lakers need them to, especially with Davis out.

5. Finally, Phoenix has won five straight games over the Lakers dating back to last season's playoffs.

The Suns have won four in a row at STAPLES.

They've won their last four games over the Lakers by an average margin of 17.7 points.

Oh how times have changed.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 5 takeaways from Phoenix Suns fifth straight win over Los Angeles Lakers

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