Los Angeles Lakers: Did we count the defending champs out too soon?

Los Angeles Lakers Anthony Davis (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers Anthony Davis (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

Did we (or I) count out the Los Angeles Lakers too quickly? 

When the Los Angeles Lakers lost Game 1 to the Phoenix Suns, it didn’t look great for the defending champs.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis didn’t look like themselves, and looked hesitant, and not 100 percent. The Suns showed confidence and poise and appeared like they were ready – and willing – to knock off the defending champs.

However, after Games 2 and 3, the tide has certainly shifted. In the past two games, LeBron and Davis have controlled and dominated this series. Chris Paul’s injury has certainly played a factor, but the Lakers have certainly responded after losing Game 1.

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What has been the difference for the Los Angeles Lakers?

The big difference between these two teams in Games 2 and 3, which has helped the Lakers take a 2-1 series lead, has been the play of Davis and the improved defense against Booker (or his poor play).

In Game 1, Davis only scored 13 points on 31 percent shooting from the field. He looked hesitant on the offensive end and the shell of the dominant force that he was in the NBA’s restart bubble last season en route to a championship. If the Lakers were going to defend their crown successfully (or even make it out of the first round), he was going to need to be a different player moving forward.

Through Games 2 and 3, he has been. In the past two games against the Suns, Davis is averaging 34 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game on 49 percent shooting from the field. Even though LeBron hasn’t had one of his “monster postseason games” thus far in this series – and you can bet that it’s coming – Davis’s elevated play has been more than enough.

Davis has almost single-handedly changed this series and the Lakers are looking more and more like the championship threat that many believed they could be.

On the flip side, after a sensational Game 1, Booker has two rough games. Even though he scored 31 points in Game 2, 17 of those came at the free throw line, and he only shot 41 percent from the field and 0-3 from distance.

He followed that up with an even rougher outing in Game 3 in which he only scored 19 points on 32 percent shooting from the field and 1-4 from 3-point range. He was also ejected from the game in the last-minute of action for shoving Dennis Schroder.

Frustration had taken a toll on Booker and down 2-1 isn’t an ideal place to be in, especially after the Suns won Game 1.

Either way, the Lakers have looked like a different team after their Game 1 disappoinment. Maybe the Suns win Game 4 and they regain homecourt advantage and are back in the driver’s seat, but at least for now the Lakers appear as if they’re beginning to round into form.

And if they can continue to win games without LeBron having to be the savior every night, this is a good place for Los Angeles to be.

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I may have counted out the Lakers too quickly. At least in their last two games, this is not a team that appears ready to throw in the towel in their quest for a repeat just yet. And LeBron isn’t even 100 percent right yet.