The Phoenix Suns, fueled by 47 points from Devin Booker, beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-100, Thursday to eliminate the reigning NBA champions in the first round of the playoffs.
Superstar LeBron James scored 29 points to lead the Lakers, but they were unable to dig themselves out of a 29-point first-half hole and lost the best-of-seven Western Conference series four games to two.
The last defending NBA champion to be knocked out in the first round was the San Antonio Spurs in 2015.
“That’s the only way we wanted it to be honest,” Booker said of drawing the Lakers in the first round.
“We knew we weren’t going to get to where we wanted to go without going through them, and it happened to be in the first round.
“It was a tough match-up all the way through. Once they got us down 2-1 we had to regroup and get everything right and we came in and we battled.”
The Lakers clearly felt the lack of star Anthony Davis, who was a game-time decision to start after missing the second half of game four and all of game five with a groin strain.
But Davis, clearly hindered by the injury, lasted less than six scoreless minutes and the Suns grabbed the game by the throat in the first quarter with Booker scoring 22 points in the opening period.