PHOENIX (REUTERS) – Devin Booker recorded 34 points, eight assists and seven rebounds to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 99-90 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers in the opening game of the Western Conference first-round series on Sunday (May 23).
Deandre Ayton added 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting and collected 16 rebounds for the second-seeded Suns, who were playing in their first post-season game since 2010.
LeBron James had 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the seventh-seeded Lakers.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday in Phoenix.
Suns star Chris Paul played 36 minutes and had seven points and eight assists. He injured his right shoulder in the second quarter when team-mate Cameron Johnson clipped his arm and he missed parts of the second and third quarters.
Dennis Schroder scored 14 points for Los Angeles. Anthony Davis had 13 on just five-of-16 shooting while Andre Drummond and Montrezl Harrell added 12 apiece for the Lakers.
The Suns shot 46.5 per cent from the field, including nine of 28 from three-point range.
Los Angeles made 43.4 per cent of their shots and were seven of 26 from behind the arc.
The Lakers trailed by 13 with 3min 23sec to play before Alex Caruso made a three-pointer 17 seconds later. But there would be no frantic comeback bid as Davis and Caruso missed three-pointers on the next two Los Angeles possessions before Phoenix’s Jae Crowder hit a short jumper with 1:35 left as the Suns closed it out.
Booker scored 17 first-half points to help Phoenix hold a 53-45 lead.
The Suns led despite not attempting a single free throw while Los Angeles were 11 of 17 from the line.
Overall, the Lakers hit 17 of 28 free throws, while Phoenix were 10 of 12.
Phoenix were leading 38-29 when Paul initially suffered his injury and left with 9:19 left in the half. He returned with 5:32 remaining and the Suns again leading by nine.
Phoenix increased their lead to 71-56 on a put-back by Mikal Bridges with 6:04 left in the third quarter. Just 59 seconds later, Paul again left the court to have the shoulder worked on and the Lakers took advantage and cut their deficit to seven.
By the time Paul returned with 1:17 left, the Suns were leading by 13, and Booker added two free throws with 11.1 seconds to play as the Suns took an 81-68 advantage into the final stanza.
Booker’s three-pointer gave Phoenix an 86-70 lead with 11:04 remaining before Los Angeles scored the next seven but the defending champions were unable to mount a full charge.