Anthony Davis dunks vs Phoenix

Three Things to Know: Lakers vs. Suns - 10/22/21

by Matthew Barrero

The Lakers will host the defending Western Conference Champion, Phoenix Suns, with the pregame show at 6 p.m. and tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.

Here are three things to know before tonight’s game:

With a new-look Lakers’ roster, LeBron James and Anthony Davis (now in their 3rd season together) showed the newbies and returnees what kind of gameplay was going to be expected right out of the gate.

James had 34 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes, while Davis had 33 points and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes. It marked the first time the duo notched 30-point double-doubles in the same night since Feb.12, 2020, in a game at Denver.

No other Lakers scored in double figures.

LeBron found most of his success from the perimeter and knocked down almost half of his three-point attempts while Davis was phenomenal under the basket and in the mid-range. Davis emphasized during Tuesday’s postgame that the preseason helped him get into a rhythm but needs to be better from the charity stripe.

“I just want to be dominant every time I touch the floor,” Davis said. “Layups, free throws, which I definitely take pride in, my free throws because I get there a lot. I can’t go two-for-seven. I take pride in that, and the team allows me to shoot technical, defensive three or whatever, but I take pride in free throws.”

In this case, it’s free throws and over the last three seasons, the Lakers have ranked in the bottom fifth of the league in free throw percentage and have not finished in the top ten since the 2015-16 season.

29th in 2018-19 (69.9%)
28th in 2019-20 (73.6%)
27th in 2020-21 (74.2%)

Los Angeles converted 9-of-19 free throw attempts (47.4%) during Tuesday’s game, while Golden State finished 25-for-30 (83.3%). The final score was a difference of seven points and proves that an execution of fundamentals (or lack thereof) can have a major impact on results as the season progresses.

The Lakers and Suns will meet for the first time since their first-round matchup in last season’s playoffs, where Phoenix got the best of L.A., winning the series in six games. The Suns return a majority of their roster while the Lakers return only three (James, Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker).

Los Angeles held a 2-1 series lead thanks in large part to Davis scoring 34 in both games 2 and 3 but a groin injury during game 4 was the turning point, and Phoenix took advantage. The Suns found success from their starters in most of the six games, outscoring the Lakers starting rotation 453-399 in the entire series. In addition, both benches contributed but it was Los Angeles who had the edge outscoring the Phoenix bench by 15 points in the six games.

The three-point shooting was problematic for the Lakers throughout the series and was particularly poor during game six. Los Angeles shot 28.6 percent, making 10-of-35 while Phoenix made 18-of-35 shots, good for 51.4 percent.

After losing their respective opening night matchups, both teams will look to turn the tide early in the young season. Look for the new faces of the Lakers to make an impact in the first of four meetings tonight.

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