NBA: Anthony Davis helps Lakers pull level with Suns

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – Anthony Davis amassed 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers earned a 109-102 victory over the hosts Phoenix Suns on Tuesday (May 25) to even their first-round National Basketball Association (NBA) Western Conference play-off series at one game each.

LeBron James contributed 23 points and nine assists for the Lakers, who held off a late Suns rally to rebound from a 99-90 defeat in Game 1. Los Angeles’ Dennis Schroder added 24 points, and Andre Drummond had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Devin Booker scored 31 points for the Suns, and Deandre Ayton had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Both players made their play-off debut in Game 1.

Chris Paul scored six points on two-of-five shooting from the field for Phoenix while appearing to favour a right shoulder injury that occurred in Sunday’s opener. Paul played 23 minutes, while Cameron Payne played 33 minutes of point guard off the bench and racked up 19 points and a team-high seven assists.

Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Thursday in Los Angeles.

The Lakers’ answer in Game 2 was reminiscent of the first round of the 2020 play-offs, when Los Angeles scored fewer than 100 points in a playoff-opening loss to the Portland Trail Blazers and then won Game 2. The Lakers did not lose another game in that first round and went on to win the title.

After starting slowly in Game 1, the Lakers came out with a more determined pace Tuesday and took a 53-47 lead into half-time. The Lakers shot just 42.6 per cent in the first half but took 14 more shots than the Suns thanks in part to a 8-1 advantage on offensive rebounds.

The Lakers took a 79-72 lead into the fourth quarter before the Suns made their move. Phoenix went on a 13-5 run midway through the period to move on top 88-86 with 6min 14sec remaining. It was their first lead since 10-8 in the opening quarter.

Leading 93-92 with 3:40 to play, the Lakers committed a shot-clock violation but regrouped on defence and turned their opportunities into offence, scoring the next seven points. Five of those came from Davis, and Los Angeles led 100-92 with two minutes remaining.

James sealed the victory by sinking a three-pointer with 49.8 seconds remaining to give the Lakers a 103-94 advantage.

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