The Los Angeles Lakers were absolutely pounded by the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of their first-round NBA playoff series on Tuesday, never looking competitive in a 115-85 blowout.
The Lakers could not create offense with Anthony Davis on the sideline and let the Suns run away with the game in the first half, falling behind by 30 at the break. LeBron James scored 24 points and but the rest of the Lakers starters combined for just 11 points — Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope not scoring at all.
Lakers legend turned TNT commentator Shaquille O’Neal did not hold back on his former franchise after the loss.
“As a former Laker I have G-14 classification to say what I’m about to say,” O’Neal said on the postgame broadcast. “They played soft. They played with no heart. They played with no pride and no sense of urgency.”
Metta World Peace, another former Laker, tweeted a different take on the situation after the game.
“It wasn’t that we weren’t showing heart,” he tweeted. “It’s just nonstop injuries. Uncertainty. Now we got two games left.”
The Lakers have embraced the “next man up” attitude in the past, but didn’t show that at all during the Game 5 loss. O’Neal thought guys like Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Schroder were missing out on the opportunity to shine big time.
“When one guy goes down, the next man has to step up. Every team has that guy that says ‘I wish I had more shots.’ You have to step up,” O’Neal said. “And not only that, they are giving that money away now. You have to make a name for yourself. Kyle Kuzma, we’ve been waiting for him to be that guy. I need a 30 piece from Kyle Kuzma.”
Charley Barkley Rips Anthony ‘Street Clothes’ Davis
Davis has had a rough history with injuries and his latest ailment has spawned a new, disrespectful nickname from Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.
With Davis inactive for a crucial Game 5 due to a groin strain, Barkley dubbed the Lakers star Anthony “Street Clothes” Davis due to all the games he’s missed.
“The Lakers can’t win this series, forget about the championship, without ‘Street Clothes,'” referring to Davis, drawing some laughs from his TNT peers, including O’Neal. “I call him Anthony ‘Street Clothes’ Davis because he’s always in street clothes.”
Davis missed 36 games this season with calf and Achilles injuries, adding to the extensive list of injuries he’s suffered in his career.
Davis Sitting Out a ‘Medical Decision’
Davis warmed up prior to the game on the court but ultimately did not suit up. His Game 6 status is still up in the air due to the groin. Vogel said the knee sprain he was dealing with earlier is no longer the issue.
“It’s a medical decision,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said prior to Game 5. “If they feel he’s at risk with injuring it any further, then obviously they won’t let him be out there. But if they feel like it’s just about managing pain and he’s not more at risk than any other player, then he’ll be cleared. It’s going to be a medical decision.”
Vogel said the knee sprain is no longer an issue keeping Davis from playing. The former top pick looked fairly limited in Game 4 before suffering the groin injury due. He notched just six points on 2-of-9 shooting before the groin injury popped up.
“The groin is the bigger priority. I don’t believe the knee is an issue,” Vogel said. “He was playing with a little bit of soreness in the knee the other night, but it’s more about the groin right now.”
The Lakers are hoping Davis will be wearing his purple and gold No. 3 for Game 6 on Thursday, which could be the defending champs’ last stand.
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