THE expected exit happened Friday, June 4, 2021, (PH time) for the undermanned Los Angeles Lakers, who were mercilessly administered a 113-100 beating by the Phoenix Suns in their own house, the Staples Center. The seventh-seeded Lakers lost their 2020 crown with their star Anthony Davis watching helplessly from the bench nursing a groin injury.
That sickening sight was all the second-ranked Suns needed to advance to the NBA Western Conference semifinals with ridiculous ease, easily erecting a 29-point point margin en route to a 62-41 bulge at the half.
After a Lakers’ pocket rebellion that put them to within 13 points at the end of the third quarter at 89-76, No. 7 Los Angeles came closer at 94-84 at the 8:04 mark of the fourth quarter.
But Chris Paul quelled the uprising, jumping twice to spark a 7-0 Suns run and restore order as Phoenix zoomed to a 17-point, 101-84 lead to stay.
While Paul, bucking a sore shoulder, did his usual chore of directing plays for the Suns’ smooth fourth-quarter cruise, it was Devin Booker who carried Phoenix early on, finishing with a game-high 47 points after firing 23 first-half points on 7-of-8 shooting behind the arc.
The Lakers were hobbled by poor shooting. Their other star LeBron James was not even half the man he used to be.
The Suns will next face the Denver Nuggets, who ousted Portland, 126-115, on Friday, after limiting the Trailblazers to 14 fourth-quarter points while unloading 28 of their own in that same span.
Meanwhile, the 2-3 Los Angeles Clippers will try to stay alive when they battle the Dallas Mavericks Saturday, June 5 (PH time) in the remaining Western match-up.
Utah captured the first Western semi final ticket on Thursday with a 126-110 Game 5 win for a final 4-1 victory over Memphis.
The top-seeded Jazz awaits the winner of the Mavs-Clips tussle. The survivor advances to a Western Conference title showdown against the victor of the Denver-Phoenix encounter.
The Eastern Conference semis pit No. 2 Brooklyn (4-1 winner over No. 7 Boston) against No. 3 Milwaukee (4-0 over No. 6 Miami) and No. 1 Philadelphia (4-1 over No. 8 Washington) versus No. 5 Atlanta ((4-1 over No. 4 New York).
Keep the beer flowing, fellas.