The Los Angeles Lakers took the next step toward winning the first-ever NBA Cup on Tuesday when they beat the Phoenix Suns 106-103 in the quarterfinal round at Crypto.com Arena. It was a hotly contested game, and there was a bit of controversy near the end.
With several seconds remaining, the Lakers looked to inbound the ball near their own basket while leading by two. It appeared they lost control of the ball, yet they were awarded a timeout.
Lakers got this timeout call on what seemed to be a loose ball 👀 pic.twitter.com/j1xdODEgNo
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 6, 2023
“Why were the Lakers awarded a timeout when it appeared that they did not have possession of the ball?” asked Jovan Buha.
One of the officials explained that L.A. did still have possession while calling for time.
“During live play the official felt that L.A. still had possession of the ball when LeBron James requested the timeout,” responded crew chief Josh Tiven. “Through postgame video review in slow motion replay, we did see that Austin Reaves had his left hand on the ball while it’s pinned against his left leg, which does constitute control.”
While Los Angeles opened up a sizable first-quarter lead, it had trouble hitting shots afterward. Phoenix made most of the second half a tit-for-tat battle, and the Purple and Gold leaned on their leading men to eke out a victory.
LeBron James was arguably the best player on the court for either team. He scored 31 points and also added eight rebounds and 11 assists, and he really asserted himself in the fourth quarter by scoring 15 points. Anthony Davis had a hot-and-cold night offensively, but he still scored 27 points and pulled down 15 rebounds.
The Lakers lacked balance offensively, but Austin Reaves came off the bench to score 20 points. He knocked down a cold-blooded 3-pointer just prior to the timeout controversy, and he was one of only three Lakers players to reach double figures in scoring.
AUSTIN REAVES WITH THE HUGE TRIPLE pic.twitter.com/8g7b2WNOWk
— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) December 6, 2023
For Phoenix, Kevin Durant turned in a very efficient 31 points, and Devin Booker and Grayson Allen pitched in 21 points apiece.
The atmosphere at Crypto.com Arena was electric, and it almost resembled a playoff setting. Los Angeles will now head northeast to Las Vegas to participate in the semifinal round of the In-Season Tournament, which means playing former Laker Brandon Ingram and the New Orleans Pelicans. A win there would take it to the championship game for a matchup against either the Indiana Pacers or Milwaukee Bucks.
Overall, the Lakers have now won 10 of their last 14 contests, and now that only guard Gabe Vincent is out due to injury, perhaps this is the point at which they will gradually start to take off.