Clarkson does a lot with a little in Lakers’ win
PHOENIX — With Lonzo Ball watching from the bench for the entire fourth quarter, Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton gave the ball to backup Jordan Clarkson and asked him to close out the Phoenix Suns.
Clarkson had 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting and Corey Brewer and Kyle Kuzma combined for 13 points in the fourth quarter to give the Lakers a 100-93 win over the Suns on Monday night.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 points and Brook Lopez added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers (6-8), who ended a three-game losing streak in a game where neither team had a double-digit lead until 2:30 remained.
“Brewer and Clarkson were both incredible tonight,” Walton said. “I told (Ball) when I took him out ‘Just get a quick break and I’ll get you back in there.’ The other guys stepped up. We’re a team and it shouldn’t really matter who’s out there.”
Ball, who became the youngest player in NBA history on Saturday to have a triple-double in Milwaukee, was 3-of-10 shooting with seven points, five assists and four turnovers in 28 minutes. He left the game with 2:47 to go in the third quarter and never returned.
“We got the win and everything worked out so I have no complaints,” Ball said. “(Clarkson) was hot. I would have rolled with him too.”
Brewer finished with 13 points and Kuzma had 11 points for the Lakers, who have two of their six wins against the Suns in Phoenix.
“It’s great to be out there at the big point in the game and know you’re not coming out in two minutes,” Brewer said. “It was a good game for us; a win that a lot of guys had a hand in.”
Devin Booker had 36 points for Phoenix, his sixth 30-plus-point performance in the first 15 games of the season. TJ Warren had 21 points and Dragan Bender had a career-high 15 for the Suns (5-10), who have lost six of their last seven games.
The Suns were 7 of 26 from 3-point range, compared with 14 of 33 for the Lakers.
“That’s a big number. The 3-pointers were the difference in the game,” Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano said. “Our defense was decent enough to keep us in the game, but when they make 14 threes and you make seven ... it’s going to be a tough hill.”
Phoenix was within two points at 85-83 on a Booker jumper with 5:58 left. But Kuzma hit two 3-pointers and Brewer one to spark a 9-1 run and give the Lakers some breathing room at 94-86 with 4:11 left.
“They hit a lot of shots. Kuzma hit a lot late and Clarkson gave them a spark,” Booker said. “We need to run those guys off the (3-point) lines, you know? Make then make other plays besides open 3s.”
A frustrated Booker picked up one technical foul and got into a vocal altercation with the Lakers bench in the final minute.
“It was one of the coaches ... I don’t know who it was,” he said. “If you’re not my coach, I don’t know you, don’t say anything to me.”
Booker and Warren, who each scored 35 points in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, combined for the first nine points Monday and 14 of 20 Phoenix points in the first quarter.
But most of the early 9-0 lead lasted less than two minutes and Phoenix didn’t have a field goal for the final four minutes. Clarkson’s bank shot with 42.4 seconds left gave the Lakers a 21-20 lead after one.
Booker scored 13 more points in the second quarter, including 10 in the first six minutes and seven during a 13-2 run that put the Suns up 39-33 with 4:14 left.
But the Lakers rallied again before halftime. Caldwell-Pope had five of his 11 first-half points in the final 3:09 and the Suns needed a Booker 8-footer with 2.3 seconds left to take a 44-43 halftime lead.
Booker, Warren and Bender were a combined 17 of 30 in the first half while the other seven Suns who played were 1 of 19.
NOTES: Only one other Suns player has accomplished G Devin Booker’s feat of scoring at least 30 points in six of the first 15 contests. Charlie Scott did it in both 1972-73 and 1974-75. ... Lakers G Lonzo Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double, when he had 19 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds on Saturday at 20 years and 15 days old, five days younger than LeBron James. Magic Johnson had been the youngest Laker to accomplish the feat at 20 years, 75 days. ... Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano stuck with Tyler Ulis as a starting point guard over Mike James for a second straight game.