Suns guard Devin Booker reacts to Thursday night’s loss to the Lakers.
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Suns guard Devin Booker talks about his team’s fight in Tuesday’s loss to the Wizards and the team’s attitude after P.J. Tucker was traded at the trade deadline. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Phoenix Suns’ Tyler Ulis talks about his game-winning shot against the Celtics on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Doug Haller/azcentral sports)
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Suns center Alan Williams discusses Friday night’s win over the Thunder.
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Broadcaster Al McCoy, “The Voice of the Suns” talks about his induction into the Suns Ring of Honor on Mar. 3, 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz. By Rob Schumacher
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azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley break down the NBA MVP race and a possible reunion in the Cardinals defensive backfield.
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Suns guard Devin Booker discusses Vince Carter’s ejection after hitting Booker with an elbow in a “chippy” loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Suns forward T.J. Warren discusses the team’s loss to the Bucks on Sunday and how he’s been feeling recently. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Suns center Alan Williams discusses a Suns overtime loss to the Bulls
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PJ Tucker, after being traded by the Phoenix Suns to the Toronto Raptors said: “Phoenix has changed my life. All the people here, all the fans… I couldn’t ask for a better place.” Video: Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Jay Dieffenbach and Doug Haller of azcentral sports talk about the Suns’ defensive future and the trade of P.J. Tucker to Toronto. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
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Phoenix Suns center Alan Williams watches his mother, Jeri Williams, sworn in as Phoenix police chief in Chesapeake Energy Arena. (Paul Coro/azcentral sports)
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Hosted by head coach Earl Watson, who says the Suns “embrace and celebrate our youth.” Video: Phoenix Suns
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Devin Booker on loss to Lakers
Devin Booker on Suns’ loss to Wizards
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Suns’ Tyler Ulis on buzzer beater
Alan Williams on Suns’ win over Thunder
Broadcaster Al McCoy talks about his induction into the Suns Ring of Honor
Shot Clock: NBA MVP debate, Cardinals DBs
NBA player makes $415,000 for two hours
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Are Cavaliers or Warriors favored to win NBA title?
Booker on Carter’s ejection, “chippy” loss in Memphis
T.J. Warren on Suns’ loss to Bucks
Alan Williams on Suns’ OT loss in Chicago
PJ Tucker after being traded by Suns: ‘I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a tough day for me’
Suns’ trade of P.J. Tucker no big surprise
Alan Williams watching his mother’s police chief ceremony
Suns ’embrace youth’ in WeArePHX ‘Momentum’ video
Late Thursday night, before Earl Watson began his postgame news conference, someone told him to smile.
“You know what?” the Suns coach started. “It’s hard to smile when you get your butt kicked. I take that personally.”
The Suns had played some of their best basketball during this five-game home stand, beating Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Boston. In a 122-110 loss to the Lakers, they took a step back.
Los Angeles had lost eight in a row. Just three weeks ago on this very court at Talking Stick Resort Arena, the Lakers took a 137-101 pounding from the Suns. After the game, coach Luke Walton questioned their effort, suggesting his players had checked out early for the All-Star break.
BOX SCORE: Lakers 122, Suns 110
This was different. In a battle of the Western Conference’s bottom teams, the Lakers (20-45) had something to prove, maybe to no one but themselves. The Suns, meanwhile, kept waiting for them to fold, which never happened. Lesson: Regardless of how well they have recently played, the Suns (21-44) aren’t good enough to coast.
“They did a good job of just being the toughest team on the court from beginning to end,” Watson said. “Too many turnovers. It’s starting to be every night. That can’t happen. And defensively we gave up,” -– Watson rattled off the Lakers’ score by quarters – “32, 29, 29, 32. There’s no way you can win like that.”
The Suns had no physical presence, Watson said. No edge. From start to finish, he felt like they went through the motions, and he wondered if it all stemmed from Wednesday’s scrimmage that pitted the veterans against the youngsters.
“Those veterans kicked their butts, and it carried over to today,” Watson said.
Guard Devin Booker thought the practice was spirited, but he agreed the Suns had little fight.
“We just have to learn from this,” he said. “You can’t sleep on any team in this league.”
D’Angelo Russell led balanced Los Angeles with 28 points, hitting 6 of 9 from 3-point range. Jordan Clarkson added 19 points, while Julius Randle contributed 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Overall, nothing from the Lakers stat sheet jumped out mostly because urgency is hard to to measure. But it was clear from the opening quarter: The Lakers had it and the Suns didn’t.
“They’re a fun team, a young team that’s trying to do the same thing that we’re trying to do as far as rebuilding,” Russell said. “It’s always cool to play against them. It’s not too late. We still have a few games left. It’s not too late to go out on top going into the summer as far as what we’re trying to work on.”
The Suns led 63-61 at halftime but fell apart in the third quarter. Los Angeles scored eight in a row to take a 69-65 lead. Rookie Brandon Ingram dunked over Alex Len for a 74-67 lead. Six minutes later, Randle missed inside, grabbed the rebound, missed again and grabbed the rebound. Given a third chance, the former Kentucky star converted for an 87-77 lead.
The Suns trailed 90-81 entering the fourth. With five minutes left in the contest, Randle buried a 3-pointer to give the Lakers a 116-95 lead, their largest of the night. The Suns fought back. Rookie Marquese Chriss buried two 3s and Booker scored off a back-cut to pull the Suns within 117-110 with under a minute to go. Russell, however, responded with his sixth 3-pointer, putting the game out of reach.
Booker led the Suns with 23 points. T.J. Warren produced 17 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, his second consecutive double-double. The Suns had 37 fast-break points but turned it over 19 times. Point guard Eric Bledsoe had seven turnovers.
“Being so young, we need that edge,” Watson said. “We need blocks, we need steals, we need transition. We kneed the energy of the crowd and we have to get them involved.”
The Suns visit Dallas on Saturday.
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Key player: D’Angelo Russell – the second pick of the 2015 draft – had 28 points, hitting 6 of 9 from 3-point range.
Key moment: After leading 63-61 at halftime, the Suns fell apart in the third quarter. They shot 38.1 percent, getting outscored 29-18.
View from the press box: A fan in the front row wanted to take Devin Booker’s picture. “Smile, Devin!” he yelled holding up his cell phone to take the picture. Booker, coming out of a time out, looked at the man and noticed he wore a Lakers hat and Kobe Bryant jersey. The Suns guard shook his head and simply pointed to his white Suns jersey.