LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis could barely move and the Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t move on as their hopes of repeating the title were dashed with a 113-100 loss in Game 6 of their first-round series with the Phoenix Suns.
Davis, cleared by Los Angeles medical staff and starting Thursday after being out of play since halftime in Game 4 with a groin strain, never looked good. He suffered from the injury within minutes of the first quarter and was forced to leave early.
Even if he had been healthy, it might not have mattered because of the way the Suns, led by 47 points from star guard Devin Booker, threw the ball.
Phoenix, after winning Game 5 by 30 points, went ahead to 29 in the first half, disarming a Los Angeles defense that was ranked No. 1 in the League in efficiency before the Playoffs.
The second-ranked Suns in the West, who bettors entered the first round as losers to the seventh-seeded Lakers, dominated Los Angeles from the start. Jae Crowder hit a 3 on the Suns’ first possession and put his index finger to his lips, suggesting the crowd shut up.
From there, Phoenix kept making noise on the offensive side, hitting his next three 3s, two more from Crowder and one from Booker, to lead by nine in the blink of an eye.
As the Suns warmed up, Davis looked fired up. On an early cut to the rim, with Dennis Schroder catching him on an entry pass, the big man grimaced, shook his head and grabbed the inside of his left leg after catching the ball.
Not long after, his night ended after he contested a Booker drive to the basket with just 5:08 left and was unable to return to the court on offense, hunched over in pain. He made his way to the Lakers bench and, after a foul by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 27 seconds later, retired, flopped on the bench and dropped his head, his season was over.
The Suns were up 36-14 after the first quarter, shooting 13 of 19 as a team (10 of 13 of 3) compared to the Los Angeles mark of 6 of 21 (2 of 8 of 3).
The defending champs, led by LeBron James, who finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 41 minutes, still managed to make it interesting.
When Caldwell-Pope scored a putback to cut it to 10 with 8 minutes, 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter, it was the closest the Lakers had been since there were four minutes, 51 seconds left in the first.
Phoenix followed up with a 7-0 run, capped by Chris Paul’s jumper, prompting the Phoenix point guard to talk trash, feeling the franchise’s first win in the Playoff series since 2010 was at hand.
LA once again brought it down to 11 with a Schroder 3 with 4 minutes left, but was never able to get anywhere near the single digits.
In a way, the Suns series, in which the Lakers were up 2-1, only to lose the next three games, reflected what the regular season was like for Los Angeles. The Lakers had a 21-6 start before Davis, already battling Achilles tendinosis in his right leg, he suffered a calf cramp against Denver on Valentine’s Day. He would miss the next 30 Lakers games.
In the playoffs, it was Davis’ left leg that disappointed him, first sprained his knee in Game 3 and then a groin strain in Game 4 that cost him the rest of the series.
James, who accomplished something unprecedented in league history last season, becoming the first player to win a Finals MVP with three different franchises, ended his 2020-21 season with some personal history.
It was the first time in his career, in 15 trips to the first round, that he lost.