Lakers, Suns each seek 3rd straight win as they face off

NBA Basketball

The Los Angeles Lakers appear to have found their rhythm again after recording back-to-back wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks over the weekend. That might not be good news for the Phoenix Suns, who visit the Lakers on Wednesday.

The Western Conference-leading Lakers, who own the NBA’s second-best record behind the Milwaukee Bucks at 26-7, had one of their strongest defensive efforts of the season Sunday when they beat the visiting Mavericks 108-95.

Los Angeles held Dallas to a season low in points and limited the Mavericks to 36-percent shooting while converting 48.7 percent of its shots. Mavericks star guard Luka Doncic was held to 19 points, 10 below his average.

The 128-120 win over the Trail Blazers on Saturday ended a four-game losing streak for the Lakers.

“We just had to find ourselves again,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis told reporters after scoring a game-high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds in the Dallas win. “It started with the defensive end. We were able to get back to what we do defensively and when we do that we are able to beat any team and feel good about ourselves.

“We were able to do that the last two games against two really great offensive teams, so when we do what we’re supposed to do on the defensive end and we play with a lot of pace, sharing the basketball, getting in the passing lanes and getting steals and deflections we’re a tough team to beat.”

The Lakers enter Tuesday fifth in the league in points allowed at 105.3 per game, 2.2 behind the league-leading Denver Nuggets. They lead the league in blocks at 7.2 per game, and Davis is tied for second among players at 2.52 per contest.

LeBron James, who had 13 points and 13 assists against the Mavericks, continues to lead the league in assists with 10.8 per outing. Suns guard Ricky Rubio is second at 9.3.

Rubio and the Suns ended an eight-game losing streak with a 112-110 win over the Kings in Sacramento on Saturday, then followed that up with a 122-116 win at Portland on Monday. The Suns outscored the Blazers 39-27 in the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 19 in the first half.

Devin Booker, who didn’t attempt a 3-pointer against the Blazers, hit all 15 of his free throws and scored 33 points to go with seven assists to pace the Suns. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 29 points, hitting 7 of 10 3-pointers and 11 of 21 attempts from the floor in 40 minutes. The seven 3-pointers were a career high and he also had three steals. Rubio added 18 points and 13 assists.

Phoenix center Deandre Ayton returned against Portland after missing five games with a right ankle sprain. He came off the bench to grab 12 rebounds to go along with six points in 20 minutes.

Unlike the Lakers, the Suns are one of the league’s worst defensive clubs. Phoenix is allowing 115.1 points per game, 25th in the league. Offensively, the Suns are averaging 114.3 points per contest, sixth in the NBA.

The Suns lost their first meeting with the Lakers this season, 123-115 in Phoenix on Nov. 12.

–Field Level Media

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