Phoenix Suns beat L.A. Lakers in playoff opener

The Phoenix Suns won their first playoff game since 2010, topping the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers 99-90 on Sunday.

Phoenix stars Devin Booker (34 points) and Deandre Ayton (21 points and 16 rebounds) delivered dynamic performances for the hosts in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel was impressed with Booker’s performance.

“(Booker) is a scoring machine, puts a lot of pressure on our defense to cover him in a lot of ways,” Vogel told reporters after the game. “When we double team him, he’s got Ayton in there. We didn’t do a good enough job but if we hold this team to 99 points in Game 2, I feel good about our chances.”

Game 2 is on Tuesday.

In other NBA playoff openers on Sunday, the Atlanta Hawks defeated the New York Knicks 107-105 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Washington Wizards 125-118. The Utah Jazz played host to the Memphis Grizzlies in the late game.

Phoenix All-Star point guard Chris Paul injured his left shoulder in the second quarter. He collided with teammate Cameron Johnson and fell to the ground. It was clear that Paul was in pain. He returned to the game, however, before leaving again in the fourth quarter.

According to Suns coach Monty Williams, Paul will be alright.

“He was OK and he’ll be OK going forward, but he was pretty sore when he came back,” Williams said. “Him playing today gave us a lot of juice, lot of energy. It was inspirational.”

Hosts build commanding lead

A Booker 3-pointer gave the Phoenix Suns a commanding 86-70 lead with 11:04 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers cut it to 86-77 on a LeBron James layup with 9:02 remaining.

Was a comeback victory in store for Los Angeles?

Phoenix didn’t allow it.

With 3:23 to play, the Suns were back in control, leading 97-84 after Ayton sank the first of two free-throw attempts.

For the Lakers, James had 18 points and 10 assists, while Anthony Davis finished with 13 points. Los Angeles was 17 of 28 from the free-throw line and also converted just 7 of 26 3-point attempts.

Because of the team’s shooting woes, Davis was disappointed in how he played and how the team shot, too. He was 5-for-16 from the field.

“I missed a ton of shots. We missed a ton of shots as a team,” Davis told reporters. “There is no way we are winning a game, let alone a series with the way I played. This is on me.”

Phoenix Suns dominate on the boards

Led by Ayton’s aforementioned 16 rebounds, the Phoenix Suns won the rebounding battle (47-33) in the series opener.

Suns backup guard Camron Payne was ejected after picking up his second technical foul in the fourth quarter after he shoved Lakers player Alex Caruso during a heated exchange.

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