Zubac, Caldwell-Pope lead short-handed Lakers past Suns

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton gave his short-handed team one important key going into Sunday’s game against Phoenix: Attack the paint.

The Lakers were able to do that, and in the process snapped a three-game losing streak with a 116-102 victory over the Suns.

Ivica Zubac and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each scored 24 points and Brandon Ingram added 22 as Los Angeles won for the first time with LeBron James and Lonzo Ball both out of the lineup. Walton was also missing Kyle Kuzma (hip) and Tyson Chandler (rest). Still, the Lakers dominated the inside against a small Phoenix lineup as it had a 70-46 advantage in points in the paint.

“I was boxing out my guy and my teammates were also boxing out their guys. Their guards weren’t able to fly in and get the boards,” said Zubac.

The Lakers’ domination in the paint also opened up the perimeter. They were 10 of 23 on three-pointers, including an eight-of-15 clip in the second half.

“When you’re getting downhill and putting pressure on the rim like that, when you do get 3s, they have a tendency to go in more often,” Walton said.

Devin Booker scored 21 points, Kelly Oubre Jr added 17 and Mikal Bridges 16 for Phoenix.

Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton, the first pick in the NBA draft, missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle. Rookie guard De’Anthony Melton missed his second game because of a sprained right ankle.

Richaun Holmes returned after missing the past four games with a sprained right foot and scored 12 points.

“They were attacking our bodies, they were attacking the paint and the rim. We were passive. We were just defending ourselves,” coach Igor Kokoskov said.