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Quick recap: Lakers Suns roll, 130-104

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No fewer than five multi-time stars are playing opponents tonight, so you’d think this match-up is between Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers It will be a real barn stove. Except four of those five don’t fit.

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The Suns started the game in half of their usual rotation but were still in much better shape than the Lakers, who were on the second night of a back-to-back game and losing their top four players.

The Suns quickly grabbed a 16-point first quarter lead, extended that to 24 at halftime and won the game by a final score of 130-104.

“He pushes the floor out,” head coach Monty Williams said afterwards of Damion Lee in the starting lineup, saying it helped point guard Chris Paul get more room to move. Paul scored a season-high 28 points, many of them with his short shots from medium range.

Without Booker, the Suns needed and got good contributions from Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges. They each scored more than 20 points in a comfortable win that was on the verge of falling. Paul led the Suns with 28 points and 8 assists. Ayton finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds in just 26 minutes. Bridges added 20 as well.

“What got me going was the movement of the ball and the defense,” Ayton said of what made the game go well from jumping.

As a team, the Suns hit 20 triples—third most of the season—on 39 attempts while shooting nearly 50% from the field. 130 points is just four short of her season high (134 on 10/25 vs. Warriors).

LeBron James (rest), Anthony Davis (foot), Russell Westbrook (rest) and Austin Reavis (ankle) all sat out, while Suns shortstop Devin Booker (groin), Jock Landall (concussion), Cameron Payne (foot) ), Cameron Johnson (knee) and of course Jay Crowder. Many bodies are missing.

The Suns opened the game quickly, taking a 16-point lead in the first quarter That stretched to 24 in the first half (68-44, Sun). Deandre Ayton scored twice in the half (14 points, 10 rebounds) while Chris Paul led all scorers with 16 points along with 6 assists. Damion Lee, who started with Booker, made three three-pointers.

The third quarter was a study in slog-dom by the Suns, who lost their edge after taking that lead against a truly depleted Lakers team. The Lakers stayed in Game 3, thanks to the Suns’ laziness, and the Suns even cut the deficit to 13 points at one point. Dennis Schroeder took the opportunity to cook a bit, scoring 14 points in the third quarter to force a Suns timeout of 2:08 to go on third down and make the score 91-77. Perhaps Coach Williams wanted to remind his team to play basketball.

The Sun finished the quarterfinals on an 8-0 run to lead 99-77 after three. Ayton now has 21 points (4 free throws, 1 three), 11 rebounds and a block. The Suns made 14 of 30 triples and 17 of 23 free throws, contributing to their huge lead. Michal Bridges now has 20 points, while Torey Craig has 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

The fourth quarter was more than the first three, with the Suns easily handling the shorthanded Lakers.

The Suns won by 26 points, 130-104.

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