Lakers’ Frank Vogel Reveals What Forced LeBron James to Locker Room Early in Game 5 Against Suns

Published 06/02/2021, 1:52 AM EDT
Jun 1, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts against the Phoenix Suns in the second half during game five in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Chris Paul’s handles, the crowd’s electrifying energy, Mikal Bridges’ dunk, shot fake from Devin Booker, and a dangerous Cameron Payne – the Phoenix Suns Arena was on fire. The hosts completely consumed the Lakers and left them gasping for oxygen. 

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Phoenix Suns defeated the heavy favorites, the Lakers, by a huge 30 point margin in Game 5. They could do that because of a very disciplined match and also an MVP-level performance from CP3. In the absence of Anthony Davis, the Lakers looked every bit like a #7 team and never had their chance throughout the game.

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When Lakers’ LeBron James left the floor early

The Lakers were under so much trouble that they let their guard down by the decisive quarter. In those final 12 minutes, neither LeBron James, Dennis Schroder, nor KCP hit the floor. By Q3, King James had played for 32 minutes, scoring 24 points, 5 rebs, and 7 assists to remain the only man registering double figures until then. It would also not be wrong to suggest that Frank Vogel miserably failed at managing the rotation in the absence of Anthony Davis, not using Montrezl Harrell until the very end.

In the post-game conference, coach Vogel responded to Bron’s Q4 absence.

One can agree that this was a rather good move because there was no way the Lakers could’ve overcome a 29-point deficit. So it was better to give Bron some rest and keep him from unnecessary injuries. This game, more than any other match, proved that AD is very much needed every single night.

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What led to the Suns shining like stars?

Consider this: the Suns had zero turnovers till the time they had already mounted a 21-point lead. That meant an optimum use case for every possession and hence the giant 30-point score difference by halftime. Even as CP3 injured his shoulder in the second half, he actively motivated the likes of Payne from the bench.

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Jun 1, 2021; Chris Paul after suffering an injury against the Lakers at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Lake Show was so poor that it took strenuous effort from them to even score 10 points in the entire Q2. But this was understandable, given that both their starters in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dennis Schroder went scoreless until Q3. It was as if the team had dumped all their responsibilities on the well-built shoulders of LeBron James

By Q3, the starting lineup of the Suns had 69 points against the full 12-men rotation of Lakers that combined for 63. Even as Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Trezz played a decent Q4, Devin Booker‘s men were totally in control. Do you still see a turnaround in the next game? 

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Sourabh Singh

1258 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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