3 takeaways: Lakers can’t contain Devin Booker as Suns win Game 1

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In a heated opening match that saw tensions spill over in the fourth quarter, the Los Angeles Lakers dropped Game 1 against the Phoenix Suns, 99-90.

With home-court advantage as the second seed, the Suns’ crowd brought the energy that hasn’t been felt since before the coronavirus pandemic. Phoenix seemed to use that energy to boost their play, as they forced the Lakers into tough looks right out of the gate while scoring efficiently on the other end.

Devin Booker, primarily, gave the Lakers fits all game long, leading all scorers with 34 points. Even when Chris Paul went down with a shoulder injury, Booker carried the burden with poise.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, looked lethargic for much of the game. Their play was reminiscent of the first half against the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament, but this time, their fortune didn’t change.

Here are three takeaways from the Lakers’ loss:

The Lakers had no answer for Devin Booker

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In his first career playoff game, Booker looked like the most polished veteran on the court. He finished the game with 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting, eight assists, seven rebounds and one steal in 45 minutes. Against the Lakers' top-ranked defense, Booker scored no matter how L.A. tried defending him. He came off double-screens and either pulled up into mid-range jumpers or found the right shooter on the perimeter. The Lakers looked puzzled anytime Booker touched the ball, and their hard double-teams, hard hedges and blitzes just didn't function. Now they have to watch the tape to figure out a scheme for Game 2.

A horrible shooting night for Los Angeles

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The Lakers didn't boast an elite offense entering the series, and their problems with scoring the ball manifested against a top-six defense in Phoenix. Los Angeles shot 43.4% from the field, 26.9% from 3-point range and 60.7% from the free throw line. The inability to convert at the stripe cost L.A. 11 points, as they shot a feeble 17-28. And the 3-point shooting rate of 7-of-26 won't be sufficient for future games. James made 3-of-7 3-point attempts, but everyone else went cold. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went 1-of-7. Caldwell-Pope had his best shooting season during the 72-game regular season, but that version of him failed to show up today.

Anthony Davis struggles all across the board

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An uncharacteristic version of Anthony Davis showed up today. After dropping 42 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks against Phoenix earlier in May, Davis was nowhere to be found. In 39 minutes, Davis shot 5-of-16 from the field for 13 total points. He didn't show up elsewhere for much of the game, either, adding seven rebounds and two assists to his stat sheet. He did block three shots, but it was far from the performance L.A. needs from their star big man if they hope to advance. Deandre Ayton shined against Davis and Andre Drummond, going for 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting, 16 rebounds and a block. The Lakers have to clean up numerous mistakes to have a better Game 2.

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