Sun Race Past Lakers, Send Series Back to Phoenix Tied at 2-2

Guard Chris Paul finishes with 18 points, nine assists
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The Phoenix Suns gave the Los Angeles Lakers a dose of their own medicine in a runaway, 100-92 victory at Staple Center on Sunday, evening the series at 2-2.

Phoenix was the aggressor defensively, forcing 16 Los Angeles turnovers. The Suns ran the floor, not allowing the Lakers to set up defensively and scoring 19 points of L.A.’s miscues.

And they dominated inside, outscoring Los Angeles 44-36 in paint points.

As the Lakers did earlier in the series with Chris Paul’s bruised right shoulder, the Suns took advantage of Anthony Davis being out the second because of a strained left groin. Davis finished with six points and four rebounds in 19 minutes.

Specifically, Deandre Ayton dominated inside, finishing with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Paul was a game-time decision but had his best game of the series, finishing with 18 points and nine assists.

Devin Booker and Jae Crowder added 17 points apiece. the Suns finished with six players in double figures. 

LeBron James led the Lakers with 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

The two teams will now travel back to the desert for Game 5, where the Phoenix Suns will host the Lakers on Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time. With the win, the Suns regained home-court advantage and wrestled control of the series.

The Lakers shot 4-for-13 from behind the arc (31 percent) in the opening quarter, but still managed to grab a 24-23 lead after a Marc Gasol tip-in just before the buzzer sounded at the end of the first quarter.

Los Angeles pushed its lead to 11 points early in the second quarter, but the Suns roared back, taking a 54-50 lead into halftime. The game saw 14 lead changes and six ties in the first half.

The Suns broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring Los Angeles 27-15 to take an 81-65 at the end of the third.

Top player: Mark Gasol finished with 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

What I liked: Down by as many as 19 in the fourth quarter, the Lakers continued to play, cutting Phoenix’s lead to seven points at the end of the game.

What I didn’t like: The Lakers shot just 13-for-40 (32.5 percent) from behind the arc. Los Angeles has struggled from the three-point line all series.

Injuries: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did not play against the Suns in Game 4 due to a left knee bruise. Wesley Matthews started in his place. Davis was questionable heading into Sunday’s game with a sprained left knee but was greenlighted to start after going through a pre-game workout. “He has some soreness yesterday (Saturday), so we put him as questionable,” Vogel said. “But obviously he came out yesterday and said he was playing, so that was our mindset.” However, Kyle Kuzma started for Davis to start the second half. Davis suffered what appeared to be a left leg injury late in the second quarter on a drive to the basket. The Lakers announced that Davis suffered a left groin strain, and he did not return.

They said it: “We have to limit our turnovers for sure. Too many poor reads. Too many poor passes, and not understanding to take what the defense gives us, making the game easy. When we do that, our turnovers are down and we get more quality shots.” – Frank Vogel on the need for his team to take better care of the basketball.