The Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Lakers 115-85 Tuesday night in Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs. With the win, Suns took the lead in the series 3-2 and is one victory away from reaching the next round and leaving the reigning NBA champions on the road.
“They kicked our butt, it’s that simple. They did everything they wanted in this game, we have to be better obviously if we want to force game 7,” said a disappointed LeBron James after the result.
LeBron James played for 32 minutes and finished with 24 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds. With six minutes to go and with an obvious disadvantage on the scoreboard, LeBron left the floor and went to the locker room.
“LeBron had to start his post-game recovery treatment, it was useless if he was sitting there. You have to think about game 6,” coach Frank Vogel explained to the situation.
It was the first time in LeBron James’ 18-season NBA career that the ‘King’ lost two games in a row in a first round of the playoffs. Counting tonight’s game, LeBron has participated in 72 first-round postseason games.
“There is a lot to analyze, but basically they kicked our butt, they beat us in everything, there is no more to say,” LeBron noted. “I need to see more video and analyze where we can do damage. We are not specifying the shots. My job is to find spaces for my teammates, who have open shots, but we were not fine.”
Lakers had a poor night on offense with just 29 of 84 completed shots, for a 34.5 percent shooting from the field. Said shooting percentage is the lowest for the Angelenos in a postseason game, since June 17, 2010 in a game against the Boston Celtics, where they made just 27 of 83 shots from the field. The Angelenos also had 17 turnovers for 23 Suns units.
“You have to give the Suns credit, they’re playing great. They’ve done it all year, they had the second-best record in the NBA,” Vogel said.
The Lakers couldn’t count on their other superstar, Anthony Davis, due to a groin injury suffered last game. It also did not have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the starting player, who left the game after 15 minutes. Caldwell-Pope suffered a knee concussion in Game 3, which caused him to miss the ensuing game. He tried to return this Tuesday, but it was not possible to be one hundred percent.
Dennis Schroder had a bad game and never managed to impose the offensive conditions that he usually achieves. He went 0-for-9 on field goals, leaving LeBron James lacking a partner on the floor.
“We have to get Dennis (Schroder) back, we have to be more creative to boost his performance, it was a bad night. We will have to get back his best version, because when he’s on, he changes our face,” said Frank Vogel.
Lakers will have another opportunity this Thursday against their people, on the Staples Center court, to seek the victory that forces the seventh and decisive game of the series.
“It’s literally winning or going home in that game, we will have to send our entire arsenal into battle. We have faith in our people, we know the fans will give us the energy and we have to respond,” LeBron said.
The question remains as to whether or not they will be able to count on Davis and Caldwell-Pope for Game 6. For now, LeBron said the mentality and preparation will have to be thinking that they are not there and he has to shoulder the burden. They hope it could be the opposite.