Anthony Davis scored 34 points and 11 rebounds, LeBron James added 21 points and nine assists and the Los Angeles Lakers played their first playoff game at home in more than eight years on Thursday with a 109-95 win over the Suns of Phoenix in the third game. From the series.
Dennis Schroeder added 20 points and led the defending champion, the seventh seed, 2-1 with their second successive victory in the first round. Los Angeles pulled away from the erratic Phoenix in the second half for the second game in a row, and the fierce attack from the Suns late in the match wasn’t enough.
“It was good for us and the team,” Davis said of the spectators. “We can only imagine what it would be like when there are 20,000 people here. However, the sound was loud and electrified. When we have the entire stadium here, all the fans are shouting, I know it will be better.”
The fourth game will take place on Sunday in Los Angeles.
Deandre Ayton scored 22 points and 11 rebounds for the second seed Suns, who was in a rut early in their first post-season series 11 years ago. Phoenix was also emotionally affected at the last minute when Devin Booker and Jay Crowder were sent to the locker room early.
Booker scored 19 points in 6 baskets in 19 attempts, but the star was knocked out 35.4 seconds earlier after making a flagrant foul on Schroeder. Moments later they fired a technical error at Crowder, and Booker followed out of court after apparently trying to confront Schroeder.
Booker explained his frustration dryly: “We were losing the game. We want to win.”
Monty Williams, the Phoenix coach, admitted he could improve.
“It was not a close match, but we had to make it within our grasp,” he said. “And in those moments, all of our men know we have to be better.”