Lakers fans can exhale now: the upset win never transpired.
Facing the top team in the Western Conference, the Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns, 140-111, on Sunday.
By the second quarter, the game was a lost cause for LA — en route to the 29-point loss.
Though the fan base could have seen the loss coming, it was hard for them not to be apoplectic after a crushing week of solid highs and dejected lows.
The Lakers’ bet to primarily feature their small-ball rotation, with LeBron at the 5 and limited shooters on the court, fell flat against the Suns.
Phoenix center Deandre Ayton finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds (including five offensive rebounds).
LeBron James put up 31 points, six assists and seven rebounds.
LBJ celebrated assist No. 10,000 of his career when he found Carmelo Anthony on the wing for three in the second quarter.
Assist number 10,000 for LeBron went to his longtime friend Carmelo Anthony 🙌 pic.twitter.com/JM0ZFQS6rx
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 14, 2022
Anthony continued to be a solid contributor off the bench: scoring 18 on the night.
Howard appeared for 19 minutes, partly due to early foul trouble, and Gabriel finished with 12 minutes.
Four of five Suns starters ended with a plus-34 or higher. Devin Booker led his team with 30 points, 10 assists and four steals.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel’s omission to size up against opposing teams continues to chip away at his value to the team as the season winds down.
By giving up 140 along a stretch of games dampened by poor defense, Vogel’s role continues to be adverse to the Lakers’ hope for the postseason.
LA has gone 3-7 in their last 10 games.
While Vogel hasn’t been the entirety of LA’s problems, it’s the team’s unfocused, unambitious late-season campaign that’s been a telltale of the coach’s waning influence.
Set to face the Raptors twice and the Timberwolves next week, the Lakers may find themselves in the 10th seed by the end of the year.
Phoenix sits atop the West with a 54-14 record. The Lakers remain planted as the Western Conference’s ninth seed (29-38).