The Lakers will play their first playoff game at Staples Center since April 28, 2013 Thursday evening, trying to take a 2-1 lead in games over the Phoenix Suns in their Western Conference first-round series.
The NBA champions missed the playoffs for a franchise-record six consecutive seasons after 2013 — and last year’s postseason was played in the “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the Lakers treated their May 19 play-in game “like a playoff game,” Thursday’s matchup “will be pretty special for our fans,” Lakers star LeBron James said. “That’s what I came here for — to be in a playoff game in front of the Laker faithful.”
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said he expects the game “will be really fun.”
“We’re all excited for it,” Kuzma said.
The Lakers’ most-recent playoff victory at Staples Center was on May 18, 2012, when they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 99-96, in Game 3 of a Western Conference semifinal series.
The Suns’ 11-time All-Star guard Chris Paul is listed as probable. He was limited to 22 minutes, 47 seconds in Tuesday’s game, with six points and five assists. Paul suffered a right shoulder contusion in Sunday’s series opener.
The Lakers tied the best-of-seven series at one game apiece with a 109-102 victory Tuesday in Phoenix, with Anthony Davis scoring 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter as they held off Phoenix’s attempt to rally from a 15-point third-quarter deficit.
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