The title defence is back on track.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis powered the Los Angeles Lakers in the fourth quarter, leading the defending champions to a 109-102 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 2.
The Lakers have now secured the all-important road split in the first two games, and will head back to STAPLES Center in Los Angeles with home court now back in their hands.
Let's jump to some of the takeaways from an impressive Lakers win.
AD is a man of his word
After a poor performance in Game 1, Lakers superstar Anthony Davis put the brunt of the blame on himself, vowing to improve for Game 2.
He did just that in this one, finishing with 34 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.
"Locked in," Davis said of his mentality prior to tip. I know my performance (in Game 1) was terrible."
"In order for us to win a series, to win games, I can't have a performance like that so I put it on myself. I wanted to come out and make a statement tonight."
A force on both ends of the floor, it's safe to say that statement was made loud and clear.
Call that a chemistry oop 🧪 pic.twitter.com/jZdtaLVCpm- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 26, 2021
LeBron's jumpshot package remains clutch
Throughout his career, LeBron has hardly been known as a knockdown jumpshooter but what he has been known for is hitting the ones that count.
With the Suns threatening to come-from-behind to pinch Game 2, LeBron went to his scoring package, drilling a series of difficult jumpshots in the second half.
Again, effortless.- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 26, 2021
(📺: @SpectrumSN & TNT) pic.twitter.com/GORsNlIKNs
Turnarounds, fading out of bounds, stepbacks, they were all there, before he delivered the final dagger on a pull-up dribbling to his left with 49.3 seconds to play.
LBJ for 👌 to seal the Lakers' G2 win! #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/ZTtQhsy2Fp- NBA (@NBA) May 26, 2021
Averaging 2.3 3-point makes at 36 percent this season, James connected on four of his nine attempts in this one, once again showing that regardless of what he does during the regular season, his jumpshot is always a major threat in the clutch.
In total, the Lakers' superstar finished with 23 points, four rebounds, nine assists and two steals.
Phoenix hopes hinging on CP3's health
Suffering what the team described as a right should contusion in Game 1, Chris Paul was clearly less than 100 percent in Game 2.
Paul would play just 22 minutes in Game 2, tallying six points, three rebounds and five assists. Checking out of the game for the final time with 7:01 to play in a tight fourth quarter, the Suns were robbed of one of the most clutch players in the league down the stretch. When the veteran guard checked out of the game the scores were locked at 86-86. Los Angeles would go on to outscore Phoenix 23-16 the rest of the way as a disappointed Paul watched on.
ꜱʜᴀᴋᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴏᴏᴍ- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) May 26, 2021
📺 @BALLYSPORTSAZ pic.twitter.com/qcnNiAMjNf
It's the latest in a seemingly never ending list of postseason injuries for Paul, with the Phoenix Suns' hopes of extending their remarkable season likely hinging on the ability of their start point guard to be close to full health.
The team's will now have one night off, with every hour of rest and recovery critical for CP3.
Payne's remarkable resurgence continues
Suns guard Cam Payne did his best to fill the void of Paul's absence, finishing with 19 points and seven assists off the bench in 32 minutes.
On the outside looking in prior to last year's NBA bubble, Payne has been excellent since given an opportunity to play with the Suns.
Under the bright lights he delivered, with his 19 points tying his third highest scoring performance for the season, while his minute tally topped 30 for the first time in 2020-21.
🔋🔋🔋 pic.twitter.com/HpHWGimotE- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) May 26, 2021
Schroder back in form
While Davis and James missed extended time leading into the postseason, the Lakers also sorely missed the prescence of starting point guard, Dennis Schroder.
Missing seven games due to health and safety protocol, Schroder delivered his best performance in his fourth game since making a return, finishing with 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting.
With Schroder in the lineup, the Lakers have a reliable second playmaker next to LeBron who can also function in the pick-and-roll, asking more questions of the defence than they can without him on the floor.
Just a 33 percent shooter from the outside, he also knocked down two of his four attempts from long range, giving the Lakers added punch in a game they very much needed it.
Game 3 between Los Angles and Phoenix is scheduled for Friday, May 28, with tip-off at 8:30 a.m. IST.
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