LAL
PHO

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Suns withstand late charge to beat Lakers 118-109

PHOENIX (AP) The Phoenix Suns took a unique approach to guarding LeBron James, putting 7-foot-1 center Deandre Ayton on him.

James got his numbers, but the Suns frustrated the Lakers' star and were able to push back when he tried to lead a late charge.

Ayton had 26 points, 10 rebounds and primary defensive duties against James, helping the Suns hold off the Los Angeles Lakers 118-109 Saturday night.

''That was a fun game,'' Ayton said. ''I'm going to sleep well tonight.''

Phoenix lost the first three games this season against Los Angeles by double digits, but had the Lakers a bit discombobulated through three quarters in the season series finale.

The Suns' defense on James, led by Ayton, helped.

The four-time league MVP was frustrated at times with Phoenix's defense and his team's inability to hang with the NBA's worst team.

But, as he has so many times, James tried to lead the Lakers back.

With Los Angeles trailing by 14 with 6:06 left, James scored on a three-point play, hit a 3-pointer and kicked out to Brandon Ingram for a corner 3 on the break. He followed with a dunk off a baseline drive to get the Lakers within 112-109.

Los Angeles got no closer, losing a game it couldn't afford to lose while fighting for a playoff spot.

''We needed this game for obvious reasons,'' said James, who had 27 points, 16 assists and nine rebounds. ''It is just unfortunate with the opportunities we've had that we haven't been able to seize the opportunity.''

The Suns appeared as if they would wilt down the stretch, as they had done so many times.

Instead, Phoenix shut down the Lakers and made six free throws in the final 52 seconds to win for the second time in three games following a 17-game losing streak.

Devin Booker added 25 points for the Suns.

''We showed we can close games, execute in crunch time, having enough discipline,'' Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. ''They we were coming hard at us.''

Both teams were in the second game of a back-to-back.

The Lakers lost 131-120 to Milwaukee after the Bucks closed the game on a 15-2 run.

The Suns followed their first win in six weeks with a 130-116 loss to New Orleans, allowing the Pelicans to hit 16 3-pointers and shoot 67 percent in the second half.

The Lakers won the last meeting against Phoenix 116-102, despite playing without James, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.

The Suns got off to a much better start in the season series finale against the Lakers, leading by 10 and making 13 of 19 shots in the first quarter.

Phoenix stretched the lead to 14 early in the second quarter, but Los Angeles used a late run to pull within 66-59 by halftime.

The Suns continued to frustrate James and the Lakers in the third quarter, stretching the lead to 95-78 behind Booker's 12 points.

Midway through the fourth quarter, James led a push, but the Suns shoved back.

''We need to be better. We need to be a lot better,'' Lakers coach Luke Walton said. ''I am happy with the fight we showed in the fourth quarter, but where we are at in the season, that is the desperation that we need to start the game with.''

MCGEE'S LIFT

Looking for a lift after Ayton dominated early, Walton turned to 7-footer JaVale McGee. He responded by hitting all 10 of his shots while scoring 21 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

TIP-INS

Lakers: Ball missed his 16th straight game with a bone bruise and sprained left ankle suffered in a collision with Houston's James Harden on Jan. 19. ... James passed Kobe Bryant (11,719) for fifth on the NBA's all-time field goals list. He made 10 against the Suns, giving him 11,726. ... G Lance Stephenson missed his second straight game with a left foot sprain. ... G Rajon Rondo had four assists and passed Deron Williams (6,819) for 20th on the NBA's all-time assists list.

Suns: Phoenix had a rough night from the 3-point arc, going 6 for 26, but made 66 percent of their two-point shots. ... The Suns are 1-9 on the second game of a back-to-back. ... Phoenix made 34 of 40 free throws, both season highs.

UP NEXT

The Lakers: Host the Clippers on Monday.

The Suns: Host the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

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Key Players
L. James
23 SF
D. Booker
1 SG
34.8 Min. Per Game 34.8
24.6 Pts. Per Game 24.6
6.8 Ast. Per Game 6.8
4.0 Reb. Per Game 4.0
51.0 Field Goal % 45.4
51.0 Three Point % 45.2
66.9 Free Throw % 86.0
+ 1 Tyler Johnson made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:17
+ 1 Tyler Johnson made 1st of 2 free throws 0:17
  Personal foul on Kyle Kuzma 0:17
  Defensive rebound by Deandre Ayton 0:28
  Brandon Ingram missed jump shot 0:31
+ 1 Tyler Johnson made 1st of 2 free throws 0:42
  Full timeout called 0:44
  Defensive rebound by Richaun Holmes 0:44
  LeBron James missed 2nd of 2 free throws 0:47
  LAL team rebound 0:47
  LeBron James missed 1st of 2 free throws 0:47
Team Stats
Points 109 118
Field Goals 43-89 (48.3%) 39-76 (51.3%)
3-Pointers 8-25 (32.0%) 6-26 (23.1%)
Free Throws 15-23 (65.2%) 34-40 (85.0%)
Total Rebounds 49 48
Offensive 10 9
Defensive 30 32
Team 9 7
Assists 27 21
Steals 3 7
Blocks 3 8
Turnovers 11 10
Fouls 24 22
Technicals 1 2
27 PTS, 9 REB, 16 AST
26 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST
1234T
away team logo Lakers 30-33 26331931109
home team logo Suns 13-51 33332923118
Team Stats
away team logo Lakers 30-33 PPG RPG APG
home team logo Suns 13-51 PPG RPG APG
Key Players
L. James SF 27.4 PPG 8.5 RPG 8.3 APG 51.0 FG%
D. Ayton C 16.3 PPG 10.3 RPG 1.8 APG 58.5 FG%
Top Scorers
L. James SF 27 PTS 9 REB 16 AST
D. Ayton C 26 PTS 10 REB 3 AST
48.3 FG% 51.3
32.0 3PT FG% 23.1
65.2 FT% 85.0
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
L. James 27 9 16 10/21 4/9 3/7 2 40 0 0 3 0 9 -1 65
B. Ingram 25 7 1 10/19 2/2 3/4 4 39 0 0 3 1 6 -5 31
K. Kuzma 13 6 3 4/9 0/1 5/7 4 34 0 1 1 4 2 -3 25
R. Bullock 5 2 2 2/7 1/3 0/0 2 18 0 0 1 0 2 -18 10
R. Rondo 4 4 4 1/10 0/3 2/2 0 25 2 0 2 2 2 -13 16
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
L. James 27 9 16 10/21 4/9 3/7 2 40 0 0 3 0 9 -1 65
B. Ingram 25 7 1 10/19 2/2 3/4 4 39 0 0 3 1 6 -5 31
K. Kuzma 13 6 3 4/9 0/1 5/7 4 34 0 1 1 4 2 -3 25
R. Bullock 5 2 2 2/7 1/3 0/0 2 18 0 0 1 0 2 -18 10
R. Rondo 4 4 4 1/10 0/3 2/2 0 25 2 0 2 2 2 -13 16
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. McGee 21 7 0 10/10 0/0 1/2 3 25 0 1 0 2 5 +9 29
J. Hart 8 3 0 3/6 1/4 1/1 5 25 1 1 0 1 2 -2 13
K. Caldwell-Pope 4 0 1 2/5 0/2 0/0 0 15 0 0 0 0 0 -4 6
M. Muscala 2 1 0 1/2 0/1 0/0 2 6 0 0 0 0 1 +4 3
M. Wagner 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 -6 -1
T. Chandler 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 2 5 0 0 0 0 1 -6 1
L. Stephenson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Williams - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Ball - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Caruso - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Bonga - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 109 40 27 43/89 8/25 15/23 24 233 3 3 11 10 30 -45 198
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
D. Ayton 26 10 3 8/11 0/0 10/14 5 33 2 1 1 5 5 +2 44
D. Booker 25 4 4 8/18 0/5 9/9 2 39 1 0 4 0 4 +13 34
K. Oubre Jr. 14 5 4 6/10 2/4 0/0 2 29 1 1 2 0 5 +14 27
T. Johnson 6 2 2 1/5 0/3 4/4 3 29 0 0 0 1 1 +3 12
D. Bender 5 3 0 2/3 1/2 0/0 2 16 1 0 1 0 3 +7 8
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
D. Ayton 26 10 3 8/11 0/0 10/14 5 33 2 1 1 5 5 +2 44
D. Booker 25 4 4 8/18 0/5 9/9 2 39 1 0 4 0 4 +13 34
K. Oubre Jr. 14 5 4 6/10 2/4 0/0 2 29 1 1 2 0 5 +14 27
T. Johnson 6 2 2 1/5 0/3 4/4 3 29 0 0 0 1 1 +3 12
D. Bender 5 3 0 2/3 1/2 0/0 2 16 1 0 1 0 3 +7 8
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Jackson 16 2 2 4/10 2/4 6/6 1 22 0 1 2 0 2 -1 21
M. Bridges 12 5 2 4/8 1/5 3/4 1 29 1 1 0 1 4 -5 23
D. Melton 6 6 4 3/5 0/1 0/0 1 15 1 1 0 2 4 +9 22
R. Holmes 4 4 0 1/2 0/0 2/3 2 14 0 3 0 0 4 +7 11
T. Daniels 4 0 0 2/4 0/2 0/0 3 8 0 0 0 0 0 -4 4
J. Crawford - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. King - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Warren - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Spalding - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Evans - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Okobo - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 118 41 21 39/76 6/26 34/40 22 234 7 8 10 9 32 +45 206