CHICAGO -- The Talking Stick Resort arena in downtown Phoenix is the least attended stadium in the entire NBA this season, pulling in an average of 15,020 souls through 41 homes games thus far.
But when the LA Lakers came to visit the Suns yesterday, the usually quiet building bounced with excitement as it hosted 18,055 paying customers or 98 percent of the building's full capacity of 18,422 .
There are plenty of reasons why the Suns have the league's worst record of 13-51. According to basektballreference.com, their offensive rating (105.1) is ranked 28th among 30 teams while their defensive rating (114.8) is 29th.
Naturally, the betting odds titled heavily on the Lakers, who were -275 favorites, which meant that a $275 wager on them only paid $100 at most betting websites. The points spread was a plus seven for the underdog Suns.
Unfortunately, what was expected to be short work and a quick trip from California to neighboring Arizona turned out to be another long night's journey into futility for the Lakers.
As 7-foot rookie DeAndre Ayton dominated down low with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Devin Booker hitting 8-of-18 baskets for 25 points, the Suns scored 66 at the half, 95 after three quarters, and then built a 99-80 lead with 10:19 to go in the final period.
Although they missed eight of 23 free throws, the Lakers offense fared above average and made 43 of 89 shots including 8-of-25 from 3-land. And led by LeBron James' 27 points, plus a combined 59 from Brandon Ingram. JaVale McGee and Kyle Kuzma, L.A. had more than enough to steal what would have been their 13th W in 32 road trips.
But their deservedly maligned 13th-ranked defense moved painfully slow like a 100-year-old turtle with gout and allowed the Suns to shoot 66 percent of their 2-point field goals (33 of 50) while surrendering 40 free throws.
With 19 games left in their schedule, the Lakers din't just stumble in Phoenix. They fell on death's cliff.
Based on last season's standings when the threshold to make the playoffs in the Western Conference was 47 wins, James and his not so merry band of brothers must now finish 17-2 the rest of the way.
Not gonna happen. No way, LBJ.
And as the reality of their team's 30-33 record finally sunk in on Sunday morning, even the most deeply religious purple-and-gold fanatics have began to accept that they don't have a prayer to make the postseason.
"Obviously, there's something wrong with this team, and it's up to us to try to fix it, but not really sure right now," Kuzma told ESPN. "As a collective group we didn't always have it. At times there wasn't always a five-man collective group," LeBron added.
In other words, the Lakers are broken, torn into pieces. Chop, chop.
They're also reeling from the mental scars of the insanely public spectacle where half of the roster was reportedly offered as trade bait for a 6-foot-10, 253-pound rare bird --- a Pelican -- that is Anthony Davis.
In the next coming days, emergency rooms around the word will see a surge of people crying for help. These are highly depressed people whose ankles will be broken after jumping off the glitzy Lakers bandwagon.
Like that fragile anthropomorphic egg that is Humpty Dumpty, the Lakers once sat on a mighty wall and had a great fall. Sadly for Laker Nation, king LeBron can't put it together again.
POWER AND PLAY WITH KOM NOLI EALA. If your Saturday mornings are unencumbered from familial obligations and whatnot, the best way to spend some idle time is to tune in to Radyo5 92.3 FM news between 8 am and 10 am.
Do yourself a favor and pamper your ears with the soothing sound of former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala while he holds court as the host of Power and Play with Kom Noli. The show is also simulcast on Cignal TV Channel 1 and streamed live on the program's Facebook page.
Occasionally, I grace the program with my annoying presence for an NBA segment in which I willingly and shamelessly lay naked my bias against dribble-happy James Harden, flop king LeBron James, drama queen Kyrie Itving, among the many other nuisance in NBA basketball.
The blueprint of a successful radio program is a coveted time slot and a capable host. Power and Play with Kom Noli have an abundance of riches with that needed ammo. Eala is Pied Piper with a microphone, James Bond with a sharper wit.
But since the proof of the pudding is in the eating, don't just believe me, hear for yourself what I'm talking about. You can thank me later.
And while I'm at it, kudos to Kom Noli's production dream team spearheaded by Gab Mallari alongside Mike Santillan, Cris Tan, Karl Vargas, Dynes Regner, Joy Abaja, Nia Bugarin, Nia Bugarin, Grace Toldeo and Jergen Millena.
In this modern world adorned with expensive gadgets, who knew that one of the best things to do on a Saturday morning is still free. Al you gotta do is set your dial to Radyo5 92.3 FM.