LeBron James, 36, suffers his FIRST playoff defeat in the opening round as Lakers are knocked out by Suns

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Game is over! LeBron James suffers his FIRST playoff defeat in the opening round as defending champion Lakers are knocked out by Devin Booker and the sharp-shooting Suns

  • The Phoenix Suns advanced to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs with a 113-100 win over defending champion Lakers in Los Angeles
  • The Lakers are the fifth reigning champion to be knocked out at home in the first round. This is the first time a LeBron James team has suffered a first-round loss
  • Phoenix’s Devin Booker hit his first six three-pointers to finish with 47 points
  • The second-seeded Phoenix advances to the Denver Nuggets in the second round. The Nuggets took out the Portland Trailer Blazers on Thursday night

It may have taken 15 playoffs in 18 NBA seasons, but LeBron James finally suffered a first-round defeat after the season.

The defending champion Lakers, ravaged by injuries, was overwhelmed by Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night, dropping Game 6, 113-100, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. James & Co. almost made a valiant comeback in the second half, but Booker proved to be too much, dropping 47 points while losing 8 out of 10 3-point attempts.

With the loss at the end of the season, the Lakers became only the fifth reigning title holder in NBA history to be knocked out on their home turf in the first round.

LeBron James responds Thursday during the second quarter of the Lakers' season close

LeBron James responds Thursday during the second quarter of the Lakers’ season close

For the Lakers, the fall from the top of the NBA hierarchy was quick.

In October, James and his Lakers teammates celebrated the franchise’s 17th NBA title with a final win over the Miami Heat in the league bubble in Orlando.

But the realities of pro sports during the pandemic dictated that the 2020-21 season will begin in late December, and the rapid turnaround may have contributed to the Lakers’ injury problems that continued into the postseason.

James started Game 6 on Thursday with a bad ankle, and running mate Anthony Davis returned from a groin injury after missing 30 regular season games with calf and heel problems.

On Thursday, Davis registered just five minutes before aggravating the groin injury. He returned to the locker room shortly afterwards before reappearing with a freshly wrapped leg.

And that was just the beginning of the Lakers’ problems in the first quarter.

Not only did Booker make his first six three-point attempts, but teammate Jae Crowder started 3 for 4 from deep as Phoenix pouted to a 36-14 lead that proved insurmountable for LA.

Phoenix advances to the Denver Nuggets in the second round.

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