The Lakers on Wednesday built a huge early lead against Phoenix, only to see it shrink to single digits. They still won their third in a row, but considered it a lesson learned.
LeBron James notched his eighth triple-double of the season, while Anthony Davis had 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Western Conference leaders opened the new year with a 117-107 win over the Suns.
“We can’t allow ourselves to fall into a trap like that,” Davis said. “You got to learn how to handle success within games.”
Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA Today
James finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a game that appeared well in hand by the end of a dominant first quarter. He had double-figure points and assists by halftime.
“We wanted to get off to a good start and protect home as well as we can,” James said.
The Suns rallied in the fourth, getting within seven points after trailing by 36 earlier in the game. That forced the Lakers’ starters back in and James steadied them with eight points to close out the win.
“You always got to be engaged until the clock hits zero,” James said.
The Lakers shot 70 percent in a ferocious opening quarter when they made their first 11 shots. Danny Green had their first miss on a three-point attempt, but the Lakers controlled the offensive rebound and JaVale McGee found Green for a dunk.
“I’m asking our guys to dominate everybody they play,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Our guys took that message to heart.”
The Lakers missed just eight attempts in the first. James airballed a shot, but they snagged the rebound and Avery Bradley scored to salvage the possession.
The Lakers put together a 25-4 run in which the Suns were limited to only free throws.
Among the highlights, Davis dunked over Aron Baynes and let out a roar, and later Davis threw down a reverse dunk on James’ pass.
Not to be outshined, James followed with a two-handed jam that ignited the crowd.
Los Angeles led 43-17 at the end of the quarter.
Kyle Kuzma, sporting blond hair, had three three-pointers in the second. Bradley scored on a smooth behind-the-back pass from James. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope beat the shot clock with a casual heave on a three-pointer. Dwight Howard chipped in eight points and the Lakers shot 61 percent in taking a 74-41 lead into halftime.
Kuzma added 19 points and Bradley had a season-high 18.
Devin Booker scored 32 points and Kelly Oubre Jr added 26 for the Suns. Phoenix had won two in a row after losing eight straight.
“We turned it up a notch in the second half and came out swinging,” Booker said. “We did it with defense and a will to play and a competitive spirit. We know we can do it. We’ll figure it out. Anytime you go 2-2 on a road trip, it’s a good road trip.”
In other results, it was:
‧ Knicks 117, Trail Blazers 93
‧ Magic 122, Wizards 101
‧ Bucks 106, Timberwolves 104
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