The numbers on the scoreboard Monday weren’t predetermined, but they were definitely predictable.
Even with Phoenix star Devin Booker out because of a groin injury, the imbalance between the Lakers and their division rival was always going to be severe.
Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton were in the Suns’ beautiful purple throwback uniforms. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Austin Reaves were sidelined in patterned jackets, hoodies and sweatsuits, the Lakers wildly undermanned against one of the best in the West on the second night of a back-to-back set.
Oddsmakers had the Suns as double-digit favorites before the Lakers ruled out James, Westbrook and Reaves, and the Lakers spent most of the night trying to keep the game within reach.
Phoenix rolled to a 130-104 win, the Lakers never getting closer than 13 after falling behind by double digits in the first quarter.
“I feel like our guys competed to the best of their ability,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.
The Lakers flashed moments of competitiveness despite the talent gap, especially in the third quarter when they cut the Suns’ lead into the low teens.
But any Suns lulls were far too temporary, Phoenix holding the Lakers at a comfortable distance for most of the night.
Guard Dennis Schroder used the opportunity to play himself into a tremendous offensive rhythm, conducting the Lakers’ offense out of the pick and roll with smooth efficiency.
He scored 30 points — including 14 in the third — his best scoring game of the season.
Other than Schroder’s hot third quarter, there was limited drama — save for Patrick Beverley, who was back on the court after sitting Sunday with a calf injury.
Booed during introductions in his first trip back to Phoenix after shoving Ayton, Beverley and Chris Paul predictably got tangled in some brief drama.
“They boo me everywhere,” Beverley said after.
With the Lakers down big in the third, Beverley drove and scored over Paul, drawing a foul. He gestured with his hand toward the court, signaling that Paul was “too small” to guard him.
The Lakers trailed by 23 after Beverley’s made free throw.
“Pat is Pat,” Ham said. “He wears his feelings on his sleeve. … I just love to see my guys enjoying the game doing what they do.”
Ham said he doesn’t want to see the game played without natural emotion like Beverley showed.
“As long as it’s nothing disrespectful, it’s cool with me,” Ham said.
Paul led the Suns with 28 points while Ayton added 21 and 11 rebounds and Bridges had 20.
Kendrick Nunn scored 17 off the Lakers bench and Lonnie Walker IV and Thomas Bryant each had 16 points.
“We kept fighting to the end and that’s the most important thing to me,” Beverley said.
After a win against Washington on Sunday, the Lakers were cautious with James as he’s dealing with ankle and thigh injuries. It also wasn’t worth it to Ham to push Reaves back on the floor after he rolled his ankle Sunday night.
“Obviously we saw Austin tweak his ankle, so just wanted to give it a day to calm down,” Ham said before Monday’s game. “Bron is, same thing, he’s been pushing a lot more minutes and much-needed minutes — but to allow his thigh to calm down a little bit as well.”
Westbrook, who was ruled out with a sore foot prior to the game, went through pregame work when he felt discomfort in his left foot.
He, similar to James and Reaves, will be re-evaluated ahead of the team’s game in Sacramento on Wednesday.
Davis’ injury, at least when it comes to what the Lakers are saying, is still a bit of a mystery.
Ham, again, said Davis was still undergoing evaluations, saying only that he “tweaked” his foot. Davis was on the Lakers’ bench without a protective boot on his injured right foot.
“We’re still working through the woods on that one,” Ham said pregame.
Even without real clarity yet, Schroder said the Lakers have to be level-headed in their approach.
“Everybody gotta just do what they can control. Everybody gotta just do their job,” he said. “And whenever AD is back, then he gonna do his job. So end of the day, nothing changes for me personally.”