The Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to counterpunch.
Instead, the Phoenix Suns were the ones throwing haymakers, peppering the Laker punch drunk 115-85 on the road in Game 5 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs.
With the win, the Suns take a 3-2 lead in the series and have the Lakers on the brink of elimination, which would be the first time LeBron James did not advance past the first round of the playoffs in his 17-year NBA career.
The two teams will meet again in Game 6 in Los Angeles at the Staples Center on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. local time.
The Lakers played without Anthony Davis, ruled out due to a left groin strain. But the way the Suns shot the basketball, Davis being on the floor might not have mattered.
How bad did it get for the Lakers? Los Angeles was outscored 32-10 in the second quarter. The Lakers did not score their first field goal in the second quarter until a Talen Horton-Tucker put back off a missed free throw with 4:21 left before halftime.
The Suns took a commanding 66-36 lead into the locker room at halftime. The 10 points was L.A.’s lowest-scoring quarter of the season. The Lakers shot 2-for-17 (12 percent) from the field in the second quarter.
Booker led the Suns with 30 points. Reserve point guard Cameron Payne added 16 points.
James led the Lakers with 24 points and seven assists.
For the first time this season, the Suns had a full capacity crowd of 16,163 at the team’s home arena in Phoenix, with chants of “Beat L.A.” reigning down from the rafters.
However, the Suns received some concerning news when Chris Paul appeared to re-injure his bruised right shoulder with 6:47 left in the third quarter on a foul by Wesley Matthews, who was boxing him out.
Paul fell to the ground in pain, with trainers tending to him. Paul stayed in the game to shoot free throws and then left the game to receive more treatment. He did not return.
The Lakers also lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope when he re-injured his bruised knee.
The Lakers, owners of the best defense in the NBA during the regular season, struggled to contain the hot-shooting Suns. Phoenix shot 54.2 percent from the field and 8-for-18 (44.4 percent) from behind the arc in the first half.
The Lakers took an early 10-5 lead, but the Suns wen on a 14-0 run to grab a 19-10 advantage with a little over five minutes left in the opening quarter and never trailed from there.
Booker led Phoenix with 18 points in the opening quarter and the Suns led 34-26 after the first.
Top player: Horton-Tucker finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds in garbage time.
What I liked: Montrezl Harrell finally got into the game to give Los Angeles some energy.
What I didn’t like: Los Angeles starting backcourt of Dennis Schröder and Caldwell-Pope finished without a point. Phoenix outscored Los Angeles 44-32 in paint points.
They said it: “They did what they are supposed to do. They are supposed to win Game 5 --whether they win by one or win by 30. They won Game 5. It's our turn to go back to L.A., go home and take care of our home court and make this a seven-game series.” – Frank Vogel on the bad loss by the Lakers.