On Monday night, Jordan Clarkson's season-high of 25 points helped the Los Angeles Lakers win, 100-93, in Phoenix and claim their season sweep of the Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Devin Booker scored 36 points and TJ Warren added 23 points, while the Lakers relied heavily on a deep bench showing to finish off the four-game, six-night road trip with a win in Arizona. Two of the Lakers' five scorers in double figures came off the pine, while Julius Randle finished with eight points and eight rebounds in only 19 minutes on the court.
When the game started with the Phoenix Suns scoring the first nine points of the contest, all signs pointed to the four-game road trip ending with a flat performance from the visitors and a blowout defeat penciled into the schedule. Instead, the Lakers scored nine of the next 11 points in the game and ended the first quarter leading by one point, 21-20.
Lakers coach Luke Walton took an early gamble, matching the size of Alex Len with Andrew Bogut, and thankfully for the Lakers, the coach's gamble paid off. Bogut grabbed his 6,000th rebound during an impressive first half contribution that helped the Lakers limit the home team in the paint and on the boards.
As the low score suggested, neither team looked sharp early on, and it was a sloppy first half with the exception of sharp offensive performances by Booker for Phoenix and Clarkson for LA. At the intermission, Booker led all scorers with 22 points, half of Phoenix's 44 tally at the break. Meanwhile, Clarkson had poured in 14 points off the bench in limited minutes.
In the second half, both teams increased the scoring rate, and the Lakers and Suns entered the fourth quarter with the score board flashing a one-point game, 75-74.
With the game winding down, Walton made a second vital decision to stick with Clarkson's hot hand and leave in veteran Corey Brewer, who was having arguably his best game of the season. Brewer eventually finished with 13 points on 5-7 shooting from the field, as the small forward played a slashing game that led to easy and timely buckets on one end and energetic defense on the other.
Riding their bench, the Lakers managed to open up an eight-point lead after Brewer made a three-pointer with just about five minutes remaining in the ball game. Booker and company would battle to cut down the difference down the stretch, but a Clarkson lay-up with 2:43 remaining in the game push the Lakers' lead to 10 points and effectively put the game in the refrigerator.
From that point forward, Brewer stepped up and made two free throws to ice the game, but LA held on for a comfortable seven-point victory. With the victory, the Lakers move up to 6-8 on the season.
Next, the Philadelphia 76ers make their annual pilgrimage to Laker Land on Wednesday, with the Suns bringing their special brand of basketball to Los Angeles on Friday.
If the Lakers win both those games, they would return to .500 on the season with a chance at a winning record on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets on Staples Center. LA will complete its four-game home stand on Tuesday, Nov. 21 with another easily winnable game against the rebuilding Chicago Bulls.