Preview: Lakers host reeling Suns in last home game before break

Jan 1, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) is fouled by Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) as he drives to the basket in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers played a sloppy, low effort game on Saturday but managed to squeak by the woeful Golden State Warriors on the road. On Monday, they will have a chance to make things right against a similarly poor Pacific Division rival when they host the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns have won just three of their last ten games and they have effectively dropped out of the playoffs hunt despite a surprisingly great start to the year. Their defense has continued to let them down as they are ranked 20th in the league in their defensive rating.

At 16th in the league, their offense has not been much better but with Devin Booker at the helm of the team (and with more ball handling help in Ricky Rubio than he’s had in his young career), they are a dangerous team that can light up the Lakers’ recently suspect defense.

The Lakers have had some of their worst performances of the season in terms of holding on to the ball in the past month. Letting a bad defense off the hook with sloppy passes and handles would be playing with fire and giving the Suns a chance to stay in the game all the way to the end.

The Lakers have also had some troubles on the glass, notably not dominating against the smallball Houston Rockets as they should have. The Suns, with Deandre Ayton and Aron Baynes, can make the Lakers pay by getting second chance opportunities. The Suns out-rebounded the Rockets a day after their game against the Lakers by 22 in a blowout win.

The Suns have also often been buoyed by swingman Kelly Oubre who is coming off a recent 39-point, nine-rebound explosion in the win against the Rockets.

The Lakers have admitted that they are looking forward to getting to the All-Star break and this will be their penultimate match before a much-needed rest. They have an opportunity to finish strong and take some momentum into the weekend as LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and Frank Vogel and his staff get ready for the All-Star weekend obligations.

The Lakers host the Suns at 7:30 PM PST. The game will be televised on Spectrum SportsNet and NBATV.

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