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  • Lakers forward LeBron James looks to pass as Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) defends during the first half of Friday’s preseason game in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Lakers forward Anthony Davis attempts a shot over the Suns’ Johnathan Motley during the first half of Friday’s preseason game in Phoenix. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives the ball against Jevon Carter #4 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers brings the ball up court past Anthony Davis #3 during the first half of the NBA preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns lays up a shot against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a shot over Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers makes a leaping pass defended by Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Head coach Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the first half of the NBA preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the first half of the NBA preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives the ball as Anthony Davis #3 sets a pick on Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball defended by LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Markieff Morris #88 of the Los Angeles Lakers lays up a shot against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Talen Horton-Tucker #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during the first half of the NBA preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Cameron Payne #15 of the Phoenix Suns attempts a shot over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers watches from the bench during the first half of the NBA preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Wesley Matthews #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a shot past Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns attempts a shot defended by Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, drives past Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder, left, during the first half of a preseason basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns puts a up a three-point shot over LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a shot under pressure from Deandre Ayton #22 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives past Phoenix Suns center Damian Jones (30) during the first half of a preseason basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) drives on Phoenix Suns guard Jevon Carter (4) during the first half of a preseason basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) dishes off around Phoenix Suns center Damian Jones (30) during the first half of a preseason basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) passes over Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Markieff Morris (88) shoots against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of a preseason basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, center, shoots between Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, right, and guard Cameron Payne (15) during the first half of a preseason basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers high fives Markieff Morris #88 during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) calls a play against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns attempts a shot defended by Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass defended by Jevon Carter #4 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Marc Gasol fouls Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Talen Horton-Tucker #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a shot against the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker drives against Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker, right, during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns slam dunks the ball past Wesley Matthews #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns slam dunks the ball past Wesley Matthews #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball defended by Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns attempts a shot over Markieff Morris #88 and Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers battle for the ball during the second half of the NBA preseason game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James warms up prior to an NBA preseason basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 18: Anthony Davis #3 and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers stand attended for the national anthem before the NBA preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 18, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James reacts during the second half of Friday’s preseason game against the Suns in Phoenix. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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The most any fan can ask for from the preseason is a spark of imagination for what might be to come.

Anthony Davis, in that sense, gave the people what they wanted, hitting a step-back 3-pointer as time expired in the third quarter – his sixth of the night.

The Lakers finished the preseason on Friday night with a 114-113 victory over the host Phoenix Suns, flexing some of the muscle that’s made them an early favorite to repeat as NBA champions. Davis finished with a team-high 35 points in just under 30 minutes. He laughed as he high-fived teammates while waltzing back to the bench for good after the shot: He had proved his point.

“Obviously he played at a pretty damn high level last year,” Coach Frank Vogel said. “But he’s a guy that he’s never satisfied. He wants to continue to get better.”

So do the Lakers: At full strength against the Suns, they started slowly in both games but fired their engines when they wished. The starting lineup (albeit without Dennis Schröder, who sat with a mild ankle sprain) looked most effective in the pivotal third quarter when they outscored Phoenix, 35-23.

It was the rare night when Davis’ 3-point percentage (6 for 7) was better than his free-throw percentage (7 for 10), pacing the Lakers’ 16-for-30 effort from behind the arc. LeBron James scored 20 points on 6-for-11 shooting, even though he looked rusty on his handle, coughing up eight turnovers.

No one worries about preseason wins and losses, but a 4-0 record surely can’t hurt. The team has four days before the regular season begins on Tuesday night at home against the Clippers.

Still, the Lakers fretted after the game about their slow start, in which they trailed by 21 points in a sluggish first quarter. It’s clear their legs are not yet game-ready, they said, and there’s a measure of concern entering the regular season with subpar conditioning after a condensed offseason.

James might be the highest concern of all, given that he’s turning 36 at the end of the month. But he expressed his confidence in his ability to monitor his own health.

“We’re a marathon team, we understand that, we’re not in a sprint,” he said. “I don’t think that it’s gonna be a fine line. I listen to my body, I listen to Mike Mancias, my trainer, I listen to the coaching staff, obviously listen to Frank, and I listen to my teammates as well. And go from there.”

The Lakers won despite struggling to stay in front of Suns scoring threat Devon Booker (27 points) and emptying the bench in the closing minutes of the tight game. Quinn Cook had the game-winning basket, while Phoenix’s Langston Galloway missed a final heave from the corner at the buzzer.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 15 points while Talen Horton-Tucker had 12.

The Lakers were proud of their undefeated mark despite games in which they were severely limited in their roster, or didn’t start the way they wished. It’s an attitude they plan on carrying into the regular season.

“We got our leaders, Bron and A.D.,” Caldwell-Pope said. “Their mindset is like, ‘Man, we don’t care if it’s the preseason. We wanna get out there and get after it.’ And four days from now, the regular season starts, and we’re gonna be ready.”

McKINNIE MAKES LAKERS DEBUT IN PHOENIX

Among the Lakers’ newcomers, only one has yet to practice with the team.

That’s Alfonzo McKinnie, the 28-year-old small forward the Lakers acquired by trading JaVale McGee to Cleveland, who missed the first week of training camp with an excused absence under the league’s health and safety protocols. He tuned into the Lakers’ film sessions and practices via video conference to remain involved.

The Lakers acknowledged on Friday, however, that McKinnie had joined the team in Phoenix, and in the closing minutes, he checked in against the Suns and finished with just a rebound and a foul.

“He’s been a part of everything, remotely for a lot of those days, but in the last few days he’s really ramped up his individual work,” Vogel said. “The coaches have spent a lot of time with him. We haven’t had a chance to really get him scripting our plays and whatnot, but he’s been sitting with the assistant coaches watching film on those types of things.”

McKinnie played 40 games with the Cavaliers last season, averaging 4.6 points and 2.8 rebounds.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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