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Phoenix Suns 115-105 LA Lakers: 5 talking points as Chris Paul’s double-double sinks LeBron James and co. | 2021-22 NBA season

Chris Paul put on a masterclass to lead his Phoenix Suns past the LA Lakers
Chris Paul put on a masterclass to lead his Phoenix Suns past the LA Lakers
Akshay Manwani

Chris Paul anchored the Phoenix Suns to their first win of the new NBA season on Friday, while the LA Lakers remain winless two games into the 2021-22 campaign.

Paul finished with a 23-point, 14-assist outing that helped the Suns trump the Lakers by double digits (115-105) in a contest in which the visitors led for most of the game.

The matchup between the two teams was played at the Staples Center.

LeBron James had 25 points to lead his LA Lakers’ teammates. However, a combination of poor shooting from the home team (39.5% from the floor), turnovers (16) and poor defense cost them their first win of the season.

On the other side, Chris Paul received good contributions from his teammates, Devin Booker (22 points) and Mikal Bridges (21 points), as the Phoenix Suns picked up the win.

Here are five quick talking points from the game:


#1 Chris Paul was Point God for the Phoenix Suns

On a night when he became the first player in NBA history with 20,000 points and 10,000 assists, Chris Paul was his vintage self.

The Point God put on a masterclass with his ball-handling skills and mid-range scoring game. He was in such exceptional form that he notched up his point-assist double-double against the LA Lakers in the first half itself.

After becoming the only player ever with 20K points and 10K assists...it's only fitting CP3 drops a first-half double-double. 🙌11 PTS, 10 AST for Paul on ESPN https://t.co/n2NEApe6Zu

Paul created scoring opportunities for his teammates throughout the game, whether it was in transition or by making the perfect pass at the perfect moment.

This is a player who signed a four-year, $120-million contract with the Phoenix Suns in the offseason, and he justified every penny of that deal tonight.


#2 Russell Westbrook continues to struggle for the LA Lakers

Russell Westbrook struggled when the LA Lakers lost to the Golden State Warriors 114-121 on the NBA’s opening night. The superstar point guard came in for a lot of criticism following his eight-point, 4-of-13 shooting performance in that game.

Brodie leads the way early. @russwest44: 8 pts, 3 ast https://t.co/Ow07j6qI1W

Things didn’t change much for Westbrook against the Phoenix Suns. Although he had an eight-point opening quarter, he receded back to his poor shooting form for the rest of the game.

Westbrook added only seven more points the rest of the way, finishing with 15 points overall. He once again struggled with his shooting form, going six-of-fifteen (40.0%) from the floor and 0-of-3 from downtown.

Although he finished with a near triple-double (15 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists), the point guard missed some easy layups, turned the ball over four times and was in foul trouble for much of the game.


#3 The Howard-Davis dust-up

Anthony Davis #3 and Dwight Howard #39 of the Los Angeles Lakers double team Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns
Anthony Davis #3 and Dwight Howard #39 of the Los Angeles Lakers double team Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns

The contest between the Phoenix Suns and the LA Lakers saw a few incidents occur on the court.

Frank Vogel and Kent Bazemore picked up technical fouls during the game. A fan was also escorted out of the arena in the third quarter for taking a swipe at Rajon Rondo. Meanwhile, JaVale McGee and Carmelo Anthony got into a bit of banter towards the end of that same period.

Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard get into it on the sidelines during a Lakers timeout. 👀(🎥: @ESPNDeportes) https://t.co/Me8Pw7e3TJ

However, the biggest ruckus was created by a dust-up between LA Lakers teammates Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis. The quarrel between the two happened during a Lakers timeout late in the second period.

Davis went up to say something to Howard, but the veteran center appeared to take offense to what he said. The two players had to be separated by other members of the LA Lakers roster.

The internet was abuzz with questions regarding the cause of the beef between the two players. Some even joked that Howard must have gotten upset by the fact that Davis made it to the NBA’s top-75 list ahead of him.


#4 Phoenix Suns simply dominated the paint

The Phoenix Suns outscored the LA Lakers 52-26 in the paint. This was due to the Suns' ease of scoring in the restricted area (24-of-43 overall, 55.8%) and the Lakers inability to finish easy opportunities at the other end (13-of-36 overall, 36%).

However, the difference in scoring in the paint is also an indicator of how much better the LA Lakers need to be in protecting the rim.

Mikal Bridges (5-of-7 in the paint) and Devin Booker (6-of-9 in the paint) of the Phoenix Suns did the bulk of their scoring in the rectangular box. This proves that when one team’s defensive intensity is down, you don’t only need big men to do the damage inside the paint.


#5 Anthony Davis needs to play better for the LA Lakers

His altercation with Dwight Howard aside, this was a frustrating night for Anthony Davis.

Although he finished with 22 points and 14 boards against the Phoenix Suns, Davis was worse than Westbrook as far as his shooting efficiency was concerned. He was 6-of-18 (33.3%) from the floor and was just 4-of-13 (30.8%) inside the paint, an area which he should absolutely dominate.

Dwight Howard said that he and Anthony Davis squashed their spat on the sideline right after it happened. https://t.co/qvZDF6dgPY

After tallying 33 points on 15-of-26 shooting and 11 rebounds against the Warriors on opening night, this is exactly the kind of inconsistency that draws the ire of Davis’ detractors.

The power forward simply cannot afford to let up as the LA Lakers hope to pick up their record-setting 18th NBA championship in 2021-22.

Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh

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