The Lakers are trying to get back on the winning track after having their seven-game winning streak snapped over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Suns have been one of the best early-season stories in a loaded Western Conference. Despite losing starting center and former No. 1-overall pick DeAndre Ayton to a 25-game suspension, the Suns come in tied for third place in the West standings after winning six of their first nine games.
Lakers snap winning streak vs. RaptorsThe Lakers snapped a seven-game winning streak on Sunday with a 113-104 loss to the shorthanded Toronto Raptors, who were without Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Anthony Davis scored 27 points while LeBron James had 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists in a losing effort for the Lakers. On the bright side for Los Angeles, forward Kyle Kuzma broke out of his season-long shooting slump with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting in 24 minutes.
LEBRON JAMES😤 pic.twitter.com/bn8RnZzMcw— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 6, 2019
Often viewed as the missing piece to this Lakers’ offense, Kuzma suffered a foot injury while with Team USA that cost him the offseason and the first few weeks of the NBA regular season. Since working his way back, Kuzma has struggled to find his role in the Lakers’ new-look offense. In five games, he’s scoring 10.7 points while shooting 39.6 percent from the field and only 20.0 percent from downtown on six attempts per game. Kuzma has been working as the first option off the bench and is trying to impact the game defensively when his shot isn’t falling.
While the Lakers are off to a strong 7-2 start, the organization has to be concerned with Davis’ ailing shoulder. Davis has been dealing with an injured shoulder since getting caught on the rim during a dunk attempt in the Lakers’ second game of the season. He’s played in six games since but tweaked the injury again in Sunday’s loss to the Raptors. He’s officially listed as probable for Tuesday’s game in Phoenix but could miss time at some point this year to nurse his shoulder back to full health.
Davis has been among the newcomers that have helped anchor a Lakers’ defense that ranks second in the league with a 98.1 rating. Los Angeles comes in scoring 105.5 points per 100 possessions on offense, which leaves them with a +7.4 net rating (3rd in the NBA) through nine games.
Baynes stepping up for SunsThe Suns pulled off another impressive victory on Sunday, taking down Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets 131-112. Devin Booker finished with 27 points while Ricky Rubio added 22 points and 12 assists for the Suns, who shot 19-for-42 from 3-point range and turned the ball over only seven times in the win. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 18 points while center Aron Baynes chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes while battling foul trouble.
Aron Baynes really set a hard screen on Kyrie, rolled to the rim, and then dunked on his head 😆 pic.twitter.com/DqShF3WFXw— SunOfficial Aron Baynes Fan Club (@BaynesFanClub) November 11, 2019
In eight games since the suspension, Baynes has filled in admirably in the absence of Ayton. In fact, he’s been so good in Ayton’s absence that it might cause some problems upon the former No.1-overall pick’s return. In previous stints with San Antonio and Boston, Baynes has proven to be a winning player and what he’s done so far this season has been nothing short of spectacular. Renown for his toughness, Baynes’ skills on both ends of the floor often go underappreciated. The 32-year-old center is averaging a career-best 15.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 58.9 percent from the floor and a whopping 47.4 percent from 3-point range on more than four attempts per contest.
Baynes has also been a major part of the Suns’ renaissance on the defensive end of the floor. Entering Tuesday, Phoenix ranked 11th in the league in defensive rating (103.7), which marks a significant improvement from a year ago. They also come in fourth in offensive rating (110.9) and net rating (+7.2) through the first nine games of the season.
- Lakers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. Western Conference.
- Lakers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Lakers are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Suns are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 Tuesday games.