Suns vs. Lakers NBA Pick
Two surging teams clash when the Phoenix Suns visit the Los Angeles Lakers. Can the Suns keep up with the Lakers?
Phoenix Suns (13-20) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (26-7)
Wednesday, January 1 at 10:30 PM ET, STAPLES Center
Suns Bounce Back
After a disappointing eight-game losing streak, the Suns got back on track with consecutive road wins against the Kings and Trail Blazers.
The Suns trailed by as many as 19 points in Portland but they rallied to beat the Trail Blazers 122-116, outscoring them 39-27 in the fourth quarter. Devin Booker finished with 33 points, seven assists and six rebounds, Kelly Oubre Jr. had 29 points, five rebounds and three steals and Ricky Rubio added 18 points, 13 assists and five rebounds.
Kelly Oubre Jr. was 7-for-10 from beyond the arc and the Suns shot 56.5 percent from distance (13-for-23). They will need similar production from Oubre in order to be competitive against the Lakers.
Devin Booker (plus-3.2 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) has played like an All-Star all season long and he is averaging 33.0 points in his last three games but they need a consistent secondary scorer and Oubre (minus-0.5 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) has to embrace that role on Wednesday.
He may not make seven 3-point shots against a Lakers team that ranks 7th in the NBA, allowing opponents to shoot 34.0 percent from distance but he has to be aggressive against LeBron James (who may not be fully healthy) and Danny Green (plus-1.0 Defensive Box Plus/Minus).
The Suns can stay in the game if Booker and Ricky Rubio (plus-0.9 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) play well but Oubre is the key to this game for them.
LeBron is Just Fine
The Lakers have also won their last two games. After apparently aggravating a recent groin injury in a collision with Patrick Beverley in the first quarter of a 111-106 loss against the Clippers on Christmas Day, LeBron James was expected to miss time but that was not the case. He didn’t score many points in those games (21 against the Trail Blazers and 13 against the Mavericks) but he had 29 assists in the two contests combined and he’s dished out 10 or more assists in his last four games.
James is averaging 12.5 assists in those four games but he was just 3-for-10 from the field and 2-for-4 from 3-point range for 13 points in 34 minutes against the Mavericks. The Lakers didn’t need him to go off because Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dwight Howard combined for 34 points off the bench but you can’t expect Caldwell-Pope to score 19 points every night.
LeBron James is just fine. It is he 100 percent? Probably not but we all know how he feels about load management. He knows how to play and still take care of himself, which is why I like the Suns to cover. James will not take unnecessary risks and go all out against the Suns and if he doesn’t score at least 25 points then this game will be closer than people think.