Julius Randle holds the ball against the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 15, 2017.
(J Alexander Diaz/Lakers.com)

Lakers Head to All-Star Break After Loss to Suns

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

In their last game before the All-Star break, the Lakers certainly looked like they could use these next eight days off.

Facing the last-place team in the Western Conference, the Lakers were blown out of Phoenix, as the Suns set a new season-high in scoring with their 137-101 win.

Head coach Luke Walton was particularly upset with the way his team performed in Los Angeles’ worst loss to Phoenix in the franchises’ 48-year series history.

He felt like some of his players had already mentally checked into the All-Star break.

“It’s an honor and privilege to play in this league,” Walton said. “We’ve got a great fanbase and we’re a great organization. … When we give in like that and don’t play with a certain competitive level, that’s not right for anybody involved.”

The Lakers had no counter for Phoenix’s backcourt, which ran wild all night long.

Eric Bledsoe cobbled together the third triple-double of his career by piling up a game-high 25 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. Meanwhile, Devin Booker continued his strong sophomore season with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting.

On the other side, the Lakers were led by 21 points apiece from D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams, who both had much of their production come when the result had already been decided.

Russell and his fellow starters shot just 14-of-48 from the field and were outscored by Phoenix’s starting five, 82-44.

The Suns (17-39) also shot 55.5 percent from the field — 17.9 percent better than L.A. — to beat the Lakers at home for the 11th straight time.

“A performance like that is unacceptable,” Larry Nance Jr. said.

It was like that from the beginning, as the Suns shot out to a 25-6 lead that turned into a 17-point cushion by the end of the first.

After shooting just 5-of-19 in the opening quarter, the Lakers’ offense improved in the second. But that didn’t stop the Suns from increasing their lead.

At the end of the half, Bledsoe banked in a buzzer-beater from mid-court, giving his team a 68-48 buffer. The 27-year-old already had a double-double by intermission, while Booker added in 21 points.

Phoenix never relented from there, collecting a season-high 32 assists — twice as many as L.A. — while even seldom-used rookie Derrick Jones put on a show by throwing down a few dunks in the final minutes, giving a preview for his performance in Saturday’s Slam Dunk Contest.

Julius Randle had a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double. … Phoenix enjoyed big advantages in rebounds (59-36) and blocks (10-3). … The Lakers allowed a season-high 41 fast-break points. … A crowd of 18,055 was in attendance at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

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