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The one reason behind the Lakers’ Game 1 loss to the Suns, per Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

lebron james anthony davis kentavious caldwell pope devin booker chris paul lakers suns

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope offered a simple explanation for the Los Angeles Lakers’ uninspired 99-90 Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns, which tipped off at 12:30 p.m. PT on Sunday.

“We’ve gotta come out with a sense of urgency,” the 3-and-D wing said following Lakers’ practice on Monday. “We knew they were gonna come out strong. It’s their first playoff series in their hometown. We knew they were going to be hungry for it. I thought we weren’t ready for what they had for us to start the game. Played behind the whole time. Never could get over that hump.”

After a promising first few minutes for Los Angeles, the Suns took the lead midway through the first quarter and never surrendered it. The Suns dictated the tempo, frequently beat the Lakers down-court, and displayed more energy and better body language from the jump.

“I don’t know if it was like…a feel-out game,” Caldwell-Pope said. “It was an early noon game, guys are just waking up maybe. The energy just wasn’t there to start the game. We kind of picked it up at the end of the second, going into halftime. I just feel like, we’ve just got to come prepared…I feel like we wasn’t ready at all.”

The Lakers were also plagued by ice-cold three-point shooting against one of the best shooting squads in basketball. Los Angeles hit just 7-of-26 looks from deep, many of which were wide-open.

The Lakers shooting struggles were encapsulated by Caldwell-Pope, who led the team in three-point percentage during the regular season (41.0) but hit just 1-of-7 in Phoenix. In this case, too, KCP cited readiness as a source of improvement for Game 2.

“We had a bunch that was open…just didn’t knock down the shots. We just gotta be ready to shoot knowing that they’re gonna show a lot of attention to AD and LeBron. So, on the back-end, we’ve got to be ready to shoot…knowing that the ball is gonna come when they double.”

Anthony Davis (13 points, seven rebounds, 5-of-16 FG, 3-5 FT), who blamed himself for the loss, was bodied by Deandre Ayton (21 points, 16 rebounds, 10-of-11 FG) all day, as Devin Booker (34 points) outplayed LeBron James (18 points).

Caldwell-Pope remains confident in the defending champs’ ability to make the requisite adjustments and bounce back for a critical Game 2 on Tuesday.

“We have a lot of power on the court and on the bench,” he said. “I just believe in the guys that we have. I feel like we can get the job done by just slowing them down, playing our basketball.”