Bahamian DeAndre Ayton returned from a two-game absence and notched a double-double to help the Phoenix Suns easily take down the Los Angeles Lakers, 130-104, at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday night.
Ayton finished the night with 21 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes of play after missing the previous two games with a left ankle injury. He was scorching hot from the field when he finished 9-for-11 including knocking down his only attempt from deep. Ayton suffered that ankle injury last week Tuesday against the Houston Rockets. Fortunately, the Suns were able to win both of the games he missed.
The win on Monday gave the Suns a 19-12 win/loss record on the season while the Lakers, who did not have forward LeBron James and center Anthony Davis, dropped to 13-17 on the season.
The Bahamian was a menace in the first quarter as he put the Lakers frontcourt on notice that the injury is behind him and that he was ready to get to work. He got the Suns on the scoreboard with 11:18 left in the first quarter with a four-foot hook shot. The Lakers led 3-2 at that point. Ayton then made his next two field goals. On this fourth and final attempt of the quarter, the center went into his bag of tricks and showed off his footwork with a 10-foot turnaround fadeaway jump shot. That put the Suns up 32-18 with 3:15 left in the first quarter. He finished the quarter with nine points.
The Suns went up 38-24 at the end of the first quarter after shooting at a 66.7 percent clip from the field. They had a 16-1 scoring run in the first quarter that moved the score from a 10-13 in favor of the Lakers to a 28-14 Suns lead.
At the half, the Suns led 68-44, taking control of the game. Ayton had a good chunk of his points in the first half as he finished with 14 in the first 24 minutes of play. He also had 10 rebounds in 16 minutes on the floor.
Ayton played just under 10 minutes in the third quarter and did not log any minutes in the final quarter as the result was a foregone conclusion.
It was a great game statistically for the Suns. They have now won three straight games after dropping five in a row. They shot the ball at a 50 percent clip and made 20-of-39 three-point shots, shooting a sizzling 51.3 percent from the deep. The Suns turned the ball over eight times compared to 16 turnovers for the Lakers.
Veteran point guard Chris Paul led the Suns with a season-high 28 points. All the starters scored at least 15 points. They were missing six players including guard Devin Booker.
The Suns were back in action last night, taking on the Washington Wizards at home, but the result was unavailable up to press time. They will return to action Friday when they host the Memphis Grizzlies at 9 p.m. That game will be televised live on ESPN.