Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns Pick & Prediction JANUARY 11th 2024

With their first run of consecutive victories in a month, the Los Angeles Lakers are feeling better about the road ahead, with talk of a disconnect between players and head coach Darvin Ham suddenly quelled. The Lakers will test that new-found unity in a home matchup against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday. In the midst of losing nine of 11 games, and falling to 3-10 since winning the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament in early December, a report surfaced last week that unnamed players had an issue with Ham’s rotations as well as in-game strategy. But Ham said he always had an open line of communication with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, with that duo continuing to deliver in key victories over the surging Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday and another, 132-131, on Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors. Davis had 41 points against the Raptors, including 20 in the fourth quarter. He also had 11 rebounds, while James had 22 points and 12 assists. The pair combined to shoot 21 of 34 (61.8 percent) from the floor. “Just in a great rhythm right now,” Davis said. “My teammates are doing a great job of giving me the basketball in spots where I can be effective. Trying to do everything I can just to help the team get back to the other side, which is winning.” In addition to the Lakers’ mini-revival, another major takeaway from Tuesday’s game was Los Angeles’ 36 free-throw attempts, including 23 in the fourth quarter, that had Toronto head coach Darko Rajakovic in a pound-on-the-table rage afterward while blasting referees. The Lakers made it a point to feed Davis inside late in the game and he delivered by making shots from the floor and the free-throw line in one of the best stretches of his accomplished career. Said Ham: “You could tell his body’s feeling good. He’s in a good space. His energy is great. He’s just doing what he needs to do.” The Suns are in search of consistency now that they have their star players on the floor. Bradley Beal has played the last seven consecutive games after seeing action in just six of the first 30 games. Now comes the continued task of integrating Beal with stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. Phoenix appeared to find some chemistry with five victories in six games while heading into the new year. But consecutive defeats, including a 138-111 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, show more work needs to be done. “It starts with their resumes,” Suns head coach Frank Vogel said about his star trio. “They are three of the best scorers in the game, and it’s going to take time for them to learn each other on the floor and stick together some wins. We’ve seen some brilliant stretches, but we aren’t as far along as the (Clippers).” Durant scored 30 points Monday, while Booker had 20 and Beal delivered 15. But the downfall for the Suns was on defense as the Clippers shot 62.4 percent from the field. –Field Level Media

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