Suns knock out Lakers in LeBron James’ earliest goodbye
Suns knock out Lakers in LeBron James’ earliest goodbye

Devin Booker, in a state of grace (47 points), gives the finishing touch to the reigning champions in the sixth game (100-113).

James, closed by Craig and Bridges, in Game 6 against the Suns.REUTERS

Children LeBron James after the painful defeat of the fifth game that God had given him those shoulders for a reason. But if to the ankle problems that he had been dragging on since March and the studs that the Lakers had not managed to iron out during the year, he should add the injury to Anthony Davis, the weight was going to overflow to those backs. James, far from his best version, could not avoid the elimination of the Lakers in the first round against the Phoenix Suns. Davis, absent in Game 5 with a groin injury, forced because if the Lakers lost it would be the last night of the season, but after five minutes he had to withdraw. And the Suns, with Devin Booker in a state of grace (22 points in the first quarter, 47 in total), they raised an impossible wall for the champions (100-113).

It is the first time in his career, after 15 playoff appearances, that a James team has lost in the first round. The first time since 2010 that it falls before reaching the NBA Finals (and it was always saved in 2019).

The Lakers faced the course with the shortest rest in the history of the major leagues, 71 days, and after a great start they began to unravel between injuries. First Davis and then LeBron, who suffered the most serious injury of his career.

Out of ammo from outside

But even before they were never as solid as on the way to the last ring. Neither Dennis Schrder ni Kyle Kuzma they were the third way they needed, nor Frank Vogel clarified the inside rotation, nor did they have enough ammunition from the outside to clear the runway. Serious problems that, however, were easy to sidestep by holding on to two maxims: the important thing was that James and Davis got to the key moment healthy, and you should never bet against LeBron on playoffs. But they did not arrive healthy, nor did those marks disappear with a stroke of the pen.

And despite all the greatest credit goes to the Phoenix Suns, an extremely young team whose coach, Monty Williams, and their leader, Chris PaulThey have given the necessary ground to compete. Although reached the playoffs, terrain they had never stepped on, and with Paul dragging shoulder problems since the first game, Booker and DeAndre Ayton they have shown themselves to be prepared.

Ayton, who already excelled when Davis was still healthy and Booker, who after an uneven series drove the dagger into the hearts of the champions. Phoenix takes the series in six games to meet the Denver Nuggets in the next round. And the NBA, for the third year in a row, will have a different champion.


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