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Lakers shut down Devin Booker in Game 3, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is injured

Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope makes a steal between Suns guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope makes a steal between Suns guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker during the second quarter of Game 3 on Thursday night at Staples Center.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s role as the Lakers’ top wing defender became tenuous Thursday night when he sustained a bruised left quad during the third quarter of the team’s 109-95 victory in Game 3 of a first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.

After the game in the best of-seven series was over, after he had chased high-scoring Suns guard Devin Booker all over the court, after Caldwell-Pope said he was still “sore” from the injury, the Lakers guard said he hopes to play in Game 4 here Sunday.

Caldwell-Pope said he wasn’t sure if he’ll get an MRI exam yet, but will decide Friday after he wakes up.

“I’m doing well. Just sore, but I’m doing well,” Caldwell-Pope said during his postgame videoconference. “I’ve got two days for rest and recovery, and I hope I’m ready to go Sunday.”

Caldwell-Pope was injured when running into Booker, who extended his body into Caldwell-Pope, forcing the Lakers guard to go down.

Caldwell-Pope eventually limped to the Lakers’ locker room with 4 minutes 16 seconds left in the third quarter, never to return.

The Lakers took control of Game 3 against the Suns in the third quarter and held off a late Phoenix rally for a 109-95 victory and a 2-1 series lead.

“I was coming off the pick and roll with him and a kind of hostage situation — he tried to hostage me,” Caldwell-Pope said, referring to Booker hesitating to try to hold him up on the screen. “He kind of backed into my leg and it hyperextended a little bit. Other than that, that was all that happened. I immediately felt pain when he bumped me, and it hyperextended. And it was painful enough where I couldn’t finish the game.”

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When asked about getting an examination on the knee, Caldwell-Pope said that would be determined Friday.

“Don’t know,” he said. “We’re going to see tomorrow when I wake up, how I’m feeling, and go from there.”

Caldwell-Pope played 26 minutes, finishing with five points, four rebounds, two rebounds, two steals and a plus-10 in the plus-minus department.

His primary job in this best-of-seven series that the Lakers lead 2-1 is to hound Booker all over the court.

Highlights from the Lakers’ Game 3 playoff win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.

Booker had 19 points on six-for-19 shooting in Game 3. He scored 65 points in the two games to open the series in Phoenix.

“It’s very challenging. He’s a scorer. And he scores in many different ways,” Caldwell-Pope said of Booker. “I just try to stay attached as much as possible. Try to crowd him in spaces where he’s comfortable. Try to get him out of a rhythm, try to keep him out of a rhythm the whole game, speed him up. It’s been challenging.

“I feel like I’m in shape to guard him the whole game like that, and I feel good. Yeah, it’s all about pressuring him and keeping him out of that rhythm and making him uncomfortable.”

With Caldwell-Pope going down in the third quarter, the Lakers had to rely on point guard Dennis Schroder for his offense and defense, and substitute Wesley Matthews for his defense.

Schroder was strong with 20 points, scoring on drives to the hoop and getting to the free-throw line.

Matthews proved that he is ready when his name is called. He had just two points in the first two games, playing 16 minutes total while shooting one for six. He played 18 minutes in Game 3 and had eight points.

The Lakers and Clippers open the NBA playoffs on May 22-23. Here’s a guide to the Los Angeles Times’ complete coverage.

Matthews made back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth quarter, and he played tremendous defense on Booker when it was his turn, finishing plus-8 for the game.

“I felt Wes Matthews, game ball to him,” Lakers star LeBron James said. “He did a great job of spreading the floor tonight and opening it up for us, opening lanes up with his back-to-back threes that he had.”

Lakers-Suns schedule for first-round playoff series.
(Tim Hubbard / Los Angeles Times)


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