The Phoenix Suns bested the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-100, in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series Thursday night, eliminating the defending NBA champions and securing their first playoff win since 2010.
Suns forward Devin Booker led the way to victory, scoring 47 points — 22 in the first quarter alone – and totaling eight 3-pointers, 11 rebounds and going 15 for 22 from the field.
“These guys over here are battle-tested,” Booker said. “We’re not going to celebrate our first series like we won a championship. We know we have a tough opponent in Denver coming up soon.”
The Lakers’ season came to an inevitable end following an injury-riddled year that saw its best players sidelined.
“The one thing that bothers me more than anything is we never really got an opportunity to see our full team at full strength,” said Lakers star LeBron James, who missed 26 games himself because of a high right ankle sprain. “Either because of injury or COVID or something going on with our ballclub this year, we could never fully get into a rhythm. And never really kind of see the full potential of what we could be capable of.”
Anthony Davis returned to the Lakers’ starting lineup after missing the second half of Game 4 and all of Game 5, but the eight-time All-Star played less than five and a half minutes before being sidelined again by his groin injury.
“It never really felt good, but the competitive nature in me wanted to go out there and help the team as best as I could,” Davis said after the game. “My body didn’t agree. … Injuries played a big part in putting us in the position we’re in. It wasn’t the same this year. We just couldn’t have our full product on the floor.”
Jae Crowder scored 18 points and Chris Paul had eight points and 12 assists for the Suns, who won three consecutive playoff games to send the Lakers packing. Thursday’s loss marks the first time in James’ 18-year-long NBA career that he suffered a first-round loss.
“It certainly is cool to beat the defending champs, for sure,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “But you can only hold onto that for so long, and now you have to move towards another worthy opponent.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.