Sunset for L.A.

The Phoenix Suns defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-100, closing out the defending champs in the first round. This is Lebron James’ first first-round playoff exit. Lakers become the sixth defending champion in history to lose in the first round the following season.

We are seeing a superstar in the making in Devin Booker. He is not going anywhere. Great players step up during elimination/close-out games. Booker’s attitude was like, “give me the damn ball and get out of the way. He went ballistic — he dropped 47 points (a playoff career-high), 11 rebounds, eight three-pointers, was 15/22 from the floor.

Chris Paul finished the game with 8 points and 12 assists. Paul killed the Lakers’ momentum during the middle of the fourth quarter. One of the greatest point guards of all time came through when it mattered most despite his injured right shoulder.

DeAndre Ayton was phenomenal during this series. He was essential as a rim protector for the Suns. All eyes will be on him as he will have a tough assignment against the league MVP Nicola Jokic. This battle is a must-see TV.

There’s no doubt that the Lakers have been hampered with injuries all year long. Anthony Davis getting hurt with a groin injury destroyed the Lakers’ chances to win this series against the Suns. I don’t just blame the injuries. I also blame some of the offseason moves from the Lakers’ front office. The Lakers needed a stronger bench. They lost Javal McGee, Dwight Howard, and Rajon Rondo during free agency. I also think the head coach, Frank Vogel, deserves some blame for their first-round exit. He didn’t use Montrezl Harrell enough during this series. Harrell was last year’s Sixth Man of the Year. Why would you not use him for size, energy, and scoring? I didn’t understand the decision at all; Harrell averaged just six points per game. That’s unacceptable.

The Suns vs. Nuggets match will be an interesting one. I have a feeling that whoever wins this series could come out of the West.

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