Anthony Davis didn’t come out for the second half.
The Suns sure did.
With Davis sidelined by a left groin strain suffered late in the second quarter, Phoenix opened the third quarter on a 14-4 run en route 100-92 Game 4 victory Sunday.
Davis – who was already playing through a left knee sprain – is undergoing further evaluation, according to Lakers coach Frank Vogel. Game 5 of the 2-2 series is Tuesday.
Suns guard Chris Paul – dealing with a shoulder injury – led the Suns with 18 points, nine assists and three steals
“Met with Coach before the game, told me he was going to sit me, told me he was going to sit me tonight,” Paul said on ABC. “I told him, ‘Hell nah.’
“Guys, on both sides, banged up. It’s the playoffs. That’s what it’s going to look like.”
Paul was so hindered by his shoulder, he even shot an end-of-quarter heave underhanded (after the buzzer):
LeBron James – yet another banged-up player – had 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. A sign of his improving health, he even finished this off-backboard pass from Alex Caruso:
The Lakers outscored Phoenix by six in LeBron’s 38 minutes and got outscored by 14 in the eight minutes he sat.
The Suns had a far deeper group of positive contributors, including Devin Booker (17 points, seven rebounds and five assists), Jae Crowder (17 points, seven rebounds and four assists) and Deandre Ayton (14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 17 rebounds). Phoenix played smothering team defense.
Davis (six points on 2-of-9 shooting in 19 minutes) struggled before leaving the game. Starting center Andre Drummond was also subpar, getting outplayed by backup Marc Gasol – creating a possible adjustment for Los Angeles in Game 5.
In 2-2 best-of-seven series, the team with home-court advantage has won the series 78% of the time. That seemingly favors the Suns, who were better than the Lakers throughout the regular season and host Game 5 (and, if necessary, Game 7).
Yes, the Lakers aren’t a typical No. 7 seed.
But that’s far more true if Davis is healthy.