NBA Game Notes: Suns-Lakers 10/26/2023



  • Kevin Durant took a charge on a transition drive, which speaks to the bigger picture that KD is bought into Vogel’s system, furthering his reputation as a defensive-minded coach. He looked engage the entire quarter.
  • Every team needs a Josh Okogie. He had two offensive rebounds that the Suns had no business winning. In an era where teams are content to let some rebounds go uncontested, Okogie has created several extra possessions in the first two games of the season.
  • The Suns bench looks good for a team that was notorious early in the summer to have no depth. Their on-paper additions have looked solid, with Eric Gordon trending to improve from game one with better shooting. Gordon anchored the bench unit as the only starter, and he was a key part of holding off the Lakers in the non-Lebron minutes, especially after KD went to the bench.
  • Nassir Little struggled to hit jumpers in his first half stint. He has generally been inconsistent in the NBA as a shooter, so the Suns need a jump from him in that regard.
  • The Lakers need Gabe Vincent’s offense to get going. He found himself in foul trouble and was inefficient at scoring, and didn’t find himself making many shots in the first half of game two either.
  • Early in the second quarter, Jaxson Hayes & Christian Wood shared the court, something that failed miserably against Denver in the season opener. This was mostly neutral because it was a quick stint, but still not a fan of the lineup because neither Hayes nor Wood are maximized in the lineup.
  • Jaxson Hayes had a great contest on a corner 3 9:57 2Q
  • 7:04 2Q D’Lo had a beautiful drive off the fake; good spot-up drive off pass from Lebron.
  • The Lakers, about halfway through, went with Christian Wood + the Lakers starters, in place of Lebron. Both lineups for Wood in the first half ended up being positive minutes for the Lakers.
  • This was a masterclass 1st half performance by Kevin Durant. The Suns struggled without him, more at certain times than others, but his team-best +19 +/- very much paints the picture of how well he carried the Suns in the first half.
  • The first half didn’t feature a lot of P&R for either team. Lots of isolation possessions, especially for KD. The second half, a 4 point Suns lead, will likely be determined by who wins the P&R battle as each team hunts for mismatches.


  • 6:00 Lakers ran a beautiful Spain P&R that led to a missed Taurean Prince drive at the rim due to a strong Nurkic vertical contest.
  • 4:52 Fantastic block by Anthony Davis out of the blindside help rotation
  • Jordan Goodwin’s floater has been a legitimate weapon
  • The Lakers have had no answer for Kevin Durant drives. Post-ups, isolations, etc have led to double digit free throws by the mid 3rd quarter
  • 3:27 Nurkic gets his 4th foul on a Gabe Vincent drive after Grayson Allen gets burned following good initial isolation defense. 
  • 2:28 Gabe Vincent with another drive
  • The Lakers have made it a focal point with the bench units to attack the paint, and they’ve found success on 3 straight attempts. 
  • The Lakers have been aggressive since the final third of the 3rd quarter in attacking the paint. This got Nurkic in foul trouble, plus the Lakers did a good job of switching any interior help onto the perimeter too deep to help when he was out. 
  • Suns go small instead of putting Eubanks in after Nurkic picks up his 5th foul. Suns continue to struggle defending the paint.
  • 5:40 KD block at the rim vs Vincent. Outstanding transition defense & timing 
  • Another offensive rebound by Okogie that leads to a high quality shot 
  • 4:16 AD and-1 post-up vs Eric Gordon on quick offense mismatch. This is the ideal way to aggressively punish the small-ball Suns lineup.
  • 3:42 Lebron split and finish
  • Turnovers have plagued Phoenix in the 4th. 8 TOs through 8 minutes in the quarter
  • Nurkic looked passive since coming back with 5 fouls, even on offense. This is alarming for Phoenix.
  • 1:30 Christian Wood missed 3 leads to KD and-1
  • 0:41 Lebron forces his way to the rim against Nurkic (5 fouls)


  • Foul trouble has plagued Nurkic in both games so far . Foul trouble plagued him the last few years in Portland, and could be a downfall to the Suns, despite him being a good fit. Eubanks has played well off the bench, but this gives the Suns less margin for error and forces them to rely on Eubanks having a heavy load, likely meaning he will be the primary big some games when Nurkic is in foul trouble. 
  • My good friend Mike Vigil posted this about how well the Suns have managed and defended the Lakers’ isolation possessions, and I found this insightful:
  • Kevin Durant passed Hakeem Olajuwon on the all-time NBA scoring list. His scoring was phenomenal and on-brand: mid-post jumpers, difficult mid range shots, getting to the rim, and drawing fouls on any contact he felt. Despite the loss, his scoring was the heart and soul of the Suns.
  • The Lakers capitalized on Nurkic’s foul trouble. Since his 4th foul at the 3:27 mark, the Lakers took 14 shots within 10 feet and drew several fouls. This is a great point of emphasis from coach Darvin Ham, exploiting a weakness for the Suns. Defensively, the Lakers also heavily trapped and blitzed P&Rs against Kevin Durant, forcing turnovers and making Durant run out of gas in the fourth quarter. 
  • Another good coaching adjustment by coach Ham was to put Christian Wood on Kevin Durant, forcing an unfavorable matchup for Phoenix that they could not counter on switches. However, Wood did have shaky shot selection at times that put the Lakers in dangerous moments.
  • Grayson Allen still hasn’t found his role with this Suns team. Maybe it comes more easily 1) after a real sample size or 2) once the Suns get all three of their core trio together, but he needs to step up and hit more shots to help the Suns hit their offensive ceiling.
  • The Suns bench was overmatched and a bit overplayed tonight with Beal & Booker hurt, but they should still feel confident in their bench when fully healthy.
  • Jaxson Hayes has been a misfit in the first 2 games. He played 0 2nd half minutes; Darvin Ham has to keep tinkering on how to maximize the lineups featuring Hayes, and I believe having him as the lone big is a good starting point. 
  • The Lakers offense will improve when Gabe Vincent becomes more efficient. He’s struggled so far to find his groove and fit with the Lakers like he did in Miami, but this is something that should be ironed out with time.
  • Phoenix ran a slow offense for most of the game. Just 10 overall transition fouls, shots, and turnovers combined.