NBA highlights on Jan. 1: Lakers, Suns put on a 'roller-coaster'

The NBA started 2020 with four games and the Lakers fans could really use some aspirin watching their team defeat the Suns.

Phoenix Suns 107-117 Los Angeles Lakers

Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers tries to dunk against the Phoenix Suns defense at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, January 1, 2020. (Photos: CGTN)

Usually, it takes two to three quarters to turn a game into a blowout but the Lakers seemed to be challenging that at the Staples Center. Having made their first straight shots, the purple and gold led 43-17 in the first quarter. Moreover, they did not stop there but continued to expand the lead in the second quarter. After the first half, the Lakers already led by 33 points (74-31) and the last time the team had similar performance was in 2008.

However, the Lakers apparently forgot what "easy come, easy go" means. The Suns refused to give up and launched their counterstrike with a facial dunk by Kelly Oubre Jr. on JaVale McGee. With a 38-27 in the third quarter, the Suns narrowed the score difference by 11 points.

Kelly Oubre Jr. #3 of the Phoenix Suns tries to dunk against the Los Angeles Lakers defense at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, January 1, 2020.

Phoenix's offense became even more intimidating in the fourth quarter as they launched a 24-9 run in five minutes and narrowed the score difference down to seven points (110-103) after Oubre buried another jump shot. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel had no choice but to send LeBron James and Anthony Davis back to the court but even that did not change the fact that the purple and gold were only 3-21 as a team in the last quarter.

Fortunately for the Lakers, two quarters were not enough for the Suns to tie the game so the home team managed to extend their winning streak to three. The other good news for them was that Dwight Howard, who got eight points, four rebounds and one steal in the game, became the sixth player in NBA history to put down at least 13,000 rebounds, 2,000 blocks and 1,000 steals after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Parish, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.

Portland Trail Blazers 93-117 New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts in the game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, January 1, 2020.

Carmelo Anthony returned to the Madison Square Garden, where he spent the last few years of his career. Obviously, fans still loved him as they chanted "We want Melo!" in the fourth quarter when Anthony was sitting on the bench. In response, the 10-time All-Star forward dropped 26 points, his highest since he joined the Trail Blazers.

"The love was definitely felt tonight. From the fans that were here, just the city as a whole, just being back. I think that feeling is kind of hard to explain. But for me to kind of get that ovation, I think I've always had the love from the city like that. But to be back in this building where I spent so many years, that love felt extremely good tonight," said Anthony after the game.

Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks tries to dunk in the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, January 1, 2020.

Nonetheless, his efforts could not stop Rip City from suffering their fifth consecutive loss. Portland's most important offensive pair, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, were together 11-36 to get only 28 points. Their struggling performance wiped any possibility of Portland winning the game in spite of Anthony's 26 points and Hassan Whiteside's double-double of 17 points, 12 rebounds.

On the Knicks side, Julius Randle became the shiniest star on Wednesday. Not only did he put down a double-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds, he also buried three shots from the 3-point line. Moreover, Thomas Robinson was perfectly 11-11 off the bench to get 22 points and eight rebounds.

Minnesota Timberwolves 104-106 Milwaukee Bucks

Jarrett Culver #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks in the face of Robin Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, January 1, 2020.

The Bucks achieved their fourth win in a row at the Fiserv Forum over the Timberwolves but the process was surprisingly hard. The home team only buried nine 3-pointers at a rate of 25 percent. Without their most important weapon, the Bucks could not shake off the opponents and even watched them catch up in the last quarter.

Though Minnesota had six players, including Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, who missed the game, the rest of the team did way better than expected. Seven of their players scored double-digit points in Wednesday's game, led by Shabazz Napier's 22. Minnesota's first-year guard Jarrett Culver even dunked in the face of Robin Lopez.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (C) of the Milwaukee Bucks scores against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, January 1, 2020.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was Milwaukee's biggest hero. He was 13-22 to get 32 points, 17 rebounds and four assists in the game. This was already his 17th 30+10 game of the season.

In another game on Wednesday, the visiting Orlando Magic beat the Washington Wizards 122-101 at the Capital One Arena.