Bob Kemp

GAME FOUR – SUNS 100, LAKERS 92

BOTTOMLINE
        *SERIES ON: Suddenly the Suns are the healthier team. Chris Paul delivered his most effective performance since his second quarter shoulder injury in Game One. Anthony Davis went down during the final seconds of the first half with a groin injury and did not return after halftime.
        *PAUL ALMOST SAT OUT: After Sunday’s game, Monty Williams and Paul revealed the organization had decided Paul would not play, but Paul talked his way into at least starting during a conversation with Williams and general manager James Jones. The Suns MVP finished with 18 points on seven of 15 from the field with nine assists and zero turnovers and a series high 32 minutes.
        *SUNS WERE THE MORE AGGRESSIVE TEAM NEARLY ALL 48 MINUTES: That attitude started in the early minutes with Devin Booker at the offensive end and expanded to the defensive end with a series-most 12 steals and the same number of offensive rebounds (nine). The Suns, after being crushed on the boards on Games Two and Three (minus eight and minus 16), were still outrebounded (50-49) but more than competed, anchored by Deandre Ayton who finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds (his fourth straight double-double in the series).
        *JAI CROWDER AND MIKAL BRIDGES STEPPED UP: Crowder had 17 points and seven rebounds, after scoring a total of just 25 points and making two of 20 three-point field goals over the first three games. Bridges finished with 11 points after scoring just 22 the first three games.
        *THE SUNS WERE ON THE VERGE OF TROUBLE EARLY IN THE SECOND QUARTER: The Suns bench, a primary strength during the regular season, was badly outplayed that led to a 37-27 deficit. But, Monty Williams quickly went back to a lineup with four starters and the immediate result a 16-3 run to give the Suns a 43-40 lead.
        *THE LAKERS DYNAMIC DUO WAS INEFFECTIVE: Davis, perhaps limited because of his Game Three knee issues, was two of nine from the field and just two free throws before not playing the second half after the groin injury. James did finish with 25 points, but on 10 of 21 from the field and one of seven from behind the arc, plus committed six turnovers.