Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Phoenix Suns blow out Los Angeles Lakers to take 3-2 lead in the series

This one was over quickly.

A first half obliteration of the Los Angeles Lakers occured in Phoenix, with the Suns using the onslaught to run away with a 115-85 win in Game 5.

In a series that has already had many twists and turns, the pressure now mounts on LeBron James and the Lakers, with the defending champions overwhelmed in this one. Let's jump to the storylines from a brilliant Phoenix performance.

First half barrage

What a first half it was.

With a vocal home crowd behind them, the Suns put this game away in the first 24 minutes, taking an incredible 66-36 lead into the half.

It was utter domination from Phoenix on both ends, as a rattled Lakers outfit were immediately forced to contemplate a 3-2 deficit in the series before they even got warm.

FG/FGA (%) 3P/3PA (%)
Phoenix Suns 26-for-48 (54.2) 8-for-18 (44.4)
Los Angeles Lakers 12-for-39 (30.8) 3-for-15 (20.0)

As dominant as the Suns were on offence, they were just as impactful on the other end as the Lakers missed shot after shot.

LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers in scoring with seven points, with James shooting just 3-for-10 from the floor.

Dennis Schroder, who loomed as a key piece in the absence of Anthony Davis was scoreless in 13 minutes, missing all five of his attempts.

CP3 shoulder watch

The eyes of Phoenix fans remain on the right shoulder of Chris Paul with the veteran guard still carrying an injury that is visibly causing him pain.

A scare was sent through the Suns' camp in the third quarter, when Lakers' guard Wesley Matthews plowed into the back of Paul when boxing out for a rebound. The play would be reviewed to see if there was a potential flagrant on the play but that was ruled out quickly.

Paul would lay on the ground for several minutes holding his should as the Phoenix medical staff attended to him. He would stay in the game after the incident, knocking down two free-throws before subbing out of the game and heading to the locker room.

Paul finished the night with nine points, four rebounds and six assists in 22 minutes.

Devin Booker

The catalyst for the first half explosion was all-star guard Devin Booker, who poured in 18 points on 10 shots during a torried first quarter.

Booker was scorching the nets from all angles in the period, helping Phoenix run up a 34-26 lead after the first.

He did cool off after the hot start, with the game well in hand and his teammates joining in the fun. Booker's final point tally sat at 30, while he also added seven rebounds and five assists.

Averaging 26.2 points per game across his first five postseason appearances, it's been an impressive start to the playoff career for Booker.

All hopes hinge on Davis

While the Suns fret on Paul, the Lakers have a disaster of their own on their hands, with Anthony Davis missing Game 5 with a groin issue he suffered in Game 4.

Davis was said to be a game-time decision in the lead-up but was ultimately ruled out, with Markieff Morris taking his place in the starting lineup.

Like most of the Lakers, Morris was a non-factor, finishing with four points in 10 minutes of play. If AD is ruled out of Game 6, it's hard to see the Lakers extending the series to seven games.

Unchartered territory for LeBron

In his 15th postseason run, LeBron James is on the brink of first-round elimination for the first time. James finds himself in this position on the back of a truly unfamiliar circumstance.

Trailing by 30 points at the half, it was the biggest halftime deficit in his 265 playoff games, with the situation now simple: win or go home.

Playing just 31 minutes due to the blowout nature of the game, James finished with a team-high 24 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

Along with the absence of Davis, James is also recovering from his own high ankle sprain that kept him out prior to the playoffs.

You would be a fool to doubt James at this point, but the situation is quickly becoming dire.

Payne the saviour

With Paul labouring, Cam Payne has come to the rescue of the bench for the Suns.

Finishing with 16 points off the bench in Game 5, it was the fourth straight game the backup has scored in double-digits.

The 26-year-old has been just the spark Phoenix need with their main man down, relieving the scoring pressure on Booker and Deandre Ayton as the young Suns continue their run.

What's next?

The series now shifts back to LA, with one night off before Game 6 as the Suns attempt to clinch and the Lakers try to stay alive.

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