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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Lakers celebrate playoff homecoming in 109-95 win over Suns

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The big man can’t wait until a full Staples Center has got his back. In the meantime, his Lakers intend to keep pushing their way past the Phoenix Suns, who pushed back too late — and a bit too zealously — in Game 3.

Davis had 34 points and 11 rebounds, LeBron James added 21 points and nine assist and Los Angeles celebrated its first home playoff game in more than eight years with a 109-95 victory over Phoenix on Thursday night.

Dennis Schröder added 20 points and the seventh-seeded defending NBA champs took a 2-1 lead with their second straight victory in the first-round series — and the first postseason game for this championship core in front of its home crowd.

“It was good for us, good for our team,” Davis said of the cheers. “We just can only imagine how it will be when it’s 20,000 in here. It was still loud, still electric. When we’re able to get the whole stadium in here, the whole fans screaming and yelling, I know it’s going to be even better.”

 

Buoyed by both their fans and Davis’ second straight stellar game, the Lakers pulled away from erratic Phoenix in the second half again, much to their fans’ enjoyment.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” James said. “It was a special night, and we just tried to reward our fans for the loyalty they have for us, and just try to play the game the right way.”

A fierce late rally by the Suns came up short — and when it did, Phoenix came unglued. Devin Booker and Jae Crowder both were sent to the locker room early, with Booker tossed for a flagrant foul on a two-handed push to an airborne Schröder that Davis called “a dirty play.”

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Game 4 is Sunday in Los Angeles.

Several thousand masked fans watched inside Staples Center as the Lakers hosted their first playoff game in their downtown arena since April 28, 2013. Los Angeles won its 17th title in the Florida bubble last October, and the legions of fans confined to watching their beloved team’s rebirth on television turned up in force for this streak-breaking win.

“To me, it was this group’s first opportunity to play a playoff game in front of these fans,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We were really yearning for full capacity or close to full capacity, but to be able to deliver a victory in front of those guys is a great source of pride.”

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