The Phoenix Suns experienced the most dreadful season-opening defeat in NBA history and attempt to erase the nightmarish memories when they host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Phoenix shot 31.5 percent from the field in Wednesday’s 124-76 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers and the 48-point margin also represents the worst defeat in Suns’ history.
Phoenix trailed by as many as 58 points in the contest that supplanted a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics on April 2, 1988 as the most lopsided in team annals. “When you get into this game, you get into this league and you have to play a certain way, in the paint, out of the paint, continue to play every possession like it’s your last,” Suns coach Earl Watson told reporters afterward. “We have to play better, we have to play at a certain level, we have to play at a certain intensity.” Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, the second overall pick in June’s NBA draft, made his debut in Thursday’s 108-92 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers but was a non-factor with three points on 1-of-6 shooting and four assists in 29 minutes. “We got blown out so I didn’t play too well ...,” Ball said afterward. “All I care about is winning. We lost (Thursday). We have to regroup (Friday) and come back and try to get a win.”
TV: 10 p.m. ET, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles), FSN Arizona (Phoenix)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (0-1): The 19-year-old Ball is expected to make an immediate impact but pesky Clippers guard Patrick Beverley - a first-team All-NBA defender last season - repeatedly hounded him and threw him off his game. The club’s other main building block, second-year small forward Brandon Ingram (No. 2 overall pick in 2016), also struggled in the opener with 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting. Off-season acquisition Brook Lopez scored 20 points in his team debut while power forward Larry Nance Jr., who beat out incumbent Julius Randle for the starting gig, displayed plenty of spring in his legs with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
ABOUT THE SUNS (0-1): Phoenix was outrebounded 57-33 and had more turnovers (16) than assists (10) in the porous opener. Star shooting guard Devin Booker, who averaged 22.1 points last season at age 20 in his second campaign, had 12 points on 6-of-17 shooting and backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe tallied 15 on 5-of-18 shooting. Both players fared well in four games against the Lakers last season as Booker averaged 25 points while Bledsoe averaged 21.8 points, 7.3 assists and 2.3 steals.
1. The teams split the four contests last season but the Suns have won 16 of the past 22 meetings.
2. Los Angeles SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (suspension) will miss the second and final game of his discipline for an offseason drunk-driving offense.
3. Phoenix C Alex Len (ankle) missed the opener and is questionable for Friday’s game.
PREDICTION: Suns 106, Lakers 101