The Los Angeles Lakers, current NBA champions, fell 113-100 to the Phoenix Suns (4-2 aggregate) on Thursday, culminating a painful elimination in the first round of the playoffs for the team captained by LeBron James.
It is the fifth time in basketball league history that a defending title team has been dumped in the first tie of the following season.
San Antonio had suffered this failure twice (2000, 2015), as had Miami in 2007 and Dallas in 2012.
With the obligation to win this Thursday in Los Angeles to stay alive, Anthony Davis made an attempt to play despite his groin injury but had to retire after five minutes, which put LeBron’s victory too uphill (29 points) and the rest of his companions.
For their part, the Suns, with an overwhelmed Devin Brooker with 47 points and a second seed in the Western Conference, took their first opportunity to eliminate the defending champion.
“That’s the only way we wanted it to be,” Booker said of the first-round win. “We knew we weren’t going to get where we wanted to without going through them, and it turned out to be in the first round. It was a difficult duel to the end. Once they beat us 2-1, we had to regroup and do everything right, we kept fighting.
Finally, the Lakers, other than LeBron, were not competitive in the last two games.
For their part, the Suns also had their own preoccupation with their star point guard Chris Paul suffering from an injury, but nonetheless contributed eight points and 12 serves for touchdown.
Meanwhile, Booker entered the game averaging 26.2 points in the first playoff series of his career as he has been very consistent. After scoring 34 and 31 in Games 1 and 2, he managed only 19 in Game 3 and 17 in Game 4, but in Games 5 and 6 he was the team’s offensive spark plug, especially in the last one in which he put the cherry on the cake with his 47 points.
Actually, the performance of the Lakers was completely different from last year when on the way to the title they had won all four series 4-1, 4-1, 4-1 and 4-2.
On this occasion, LeBron was seconded by shotgunner Dennis Schroder with 20 points, and Kentavious Caldwell Pope with 19 points. (GG) (AFP)