PHOENIX (CBS/AP) — Devin Booker scored 30 points after two quiet games and the Phoenix Suns sent LeBron James to the locker room early, dismantling the Los Angeles Lakers 115-85 Tuesday night to take a 3-2 first-round series lead.
Wesley Matthews #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a replay of his foul on Chris Paul (not pictured) of the Phoenix Suns during the second half in Game Five of the Western Conference first-round playoff series at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 01, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Suns won in Los Angeles on Sunday to tie the series and went right at the Anthony Davis-less Lakers in front of a revved-up crowd in Game 5.
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Davis was out after suffering a groin injury in Game 4 and the Suns took advantage by attacking every chance they had. The Lakers put up little resistance, allowing Phoenix to score nearly at will while building a 30-point halftime lead — Los Angeles’ largest halftime deficit in 25 years.
“We were getting some really good looks, we’re just not making shots. We’re literally just not making shots,” James said. “It’s my job to get guys open looks, finding guys, getting guys in rhythm and staying in rhythm myself. We’re just not making many shots.”
The Suns made 14 3-pointers and had just four turnovers against the NBA’s regular-season defensive efficiency leader.
The only bad news: point guard Chris Paul took a shot to his injured right shoulder in the third quarter and did not return.
James scored 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter, but couldn’t rally the listless Lakers. The four-time league MVP sat at the end of the bench by himself in the fourth quarter before heading to the locker room with about five minutes left.
“I don’t know man, we just got our a– kicked, it’s just that simple,” James said. “They got to whatever they wanted to get to in this game. We have to be better obviously if we want to force a Game 7. A lot to learn from in this game, a lot to cover and see what we can do better in Game 6. But, they pretty much just kicked our a– there’s nothing else really to say.”
Game 6 is Thursday in Los Angeles
The series between one-time rivals has been shaped by injuries.
The Suns won the first game in the desert despite Paul injuring his shoulder. Los Angeles won the next two with Paul ailing, then Phoenix took Game 4 102-94 in Los Angeles after Davis went down with a groin injury.
The Suns took advantage of Davis’ absence early in Game 5, repeatedly getting into the lane for shots or kickouts for open looks.
Booker was the biggest beneficiary.
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He had been relatively quite the previous two games — at least for one of the league’s top scorers — scoring a combined 36 points on 11-of-24 shooting. Phoenix’s young All-Star came out firing in the pivotal game of the series, scoring 18 points in the first quarter and hitting a corner jumper to put the Suns up 18 early in the second.
Booker wasn’t the only one dropping shots.
The Suns had their way against Los Angeles’ reach-and-swipe defense, leaving the Lakers flat footed with their quickness and rapid ball movement.
Phoenix made eight 3-pointers, 26 of 48 shots and had one turnover to lead 66-36 at halftime. It was the Lakers’ largest halftime deficit since trailing Utah by 26 in 1998, according to SportRadar.
The Suns kept on the gas even as James became more aggressive in the third quarter, maintaining a 29-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
PAUL GOES DOWN
Paul reinjured his shoulder midway through the third quarter when he got tangled with Lakers guard Wesley Matthews while fighting for a rebound and hit the floor. Paul pointed toward Matthews as he went off the floor and was immediately attended to by Phoenix’s trainers.
Paul got up after a minute or so and walked around, setting off a round of MVP! chants from the crowd. He returned to the game to hit two free throws and received a loud ovation before heading to the locker room for treatment.
Paul finished with nine points and six assists.
Lakers: Kyle Kuzma was the only other Los Angeles player to score in double figures with 15 points. … Markieff Morris, who started in place of Davis, had four points on 1-of-2 shooting.
Suns: Cam Payne gave Phoenix a nice lift, particularly after Paul went out. The backup point guard finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting. … Mikal Bridges had a solid all-around game with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists. … Booker shot 13 of 23 from the floor.
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