Phoenix got the job done, protecting home court by bringing the energy they talked about all week and outscoring San Antonio in three of the four quarters.
“We want more of that,” Deandre Ayton said of their performance against the Spurs. “Because that’s a great feeling when you’re sitting in the locker room [takes a deep sigh of relief] like yeah, we won.”
Ayton wanted to keep that winning energy alive after the game and the best way to do that was to spend a few hours getting more shots up the next day.
“Yesterday it was a black out,” Ayton said. “I came back here just to get some shots up because I wanted to have that same feeling again just winning, having the fans go crazy.”
We saw a different side of Ayton against the Spurs. He brought a different type of aggressiveness we hadn’t seen before.
“We just told him that he’s just got to be mean,” point guard Isaiah Canaan said. “He’s a good kid and he’s an unselfish player, and we told him that we don’t need him being nice to the opponents. We need him being mean the whole time, so when he finally dunked on somebody, I went up to him and said thank you and he got the message.”
Ayton knows that he could bring more energy and emotion to his game on a consistent basis and he knows that’s what his teammates expect out of him. He wants to be that type of guy, too, but he’s still trying to figure this league out.
“I’m a nice guy,” Ayton said with a smile. “I’m a lover not a fighter. I’m a nice guy off the court. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do but I’m probably not crazy with it. Let me just ease myself into this league and see what I can do and cannot do.”
He brought out that mean guy attitude against LaMarcus Aldridge, a guy he played against just a few weeks ago, holding him to 3-12 shooting from the field and six points. Ayton finished the game with 17 and 10.
“You’re not going to make the same mistake again,” Ayton said of playing against opponents he has lost to before. “We’re just going to fight it out and learn from our mistakes and I learn every game. When I lose, I say I learn. I’m not really losing I’m learning. So I’ll win regardless. So yeah every time I get the same matchup. I’m learning. I study all of his tendencies. I study his moves, his worse move, what he hates, what he don’t like, what he likes.”
Along with Ayton, Canaan also has a lot on his shoulders, being in a bigger leadership role than he has ever been before. He understands that he has to be patient and vocal when it comes to lifting up his teammates.
“I’m the head of the snake,” Canaan said. “I got to hold all of my guys accountable. I got to push them. I got to motivate them and I got to encourage them all at the same time, so it’s a lot that I got to carry. I’m up for the responsibility and the challenge all season long. “
Canaan had a great game Wednesday as well, scoring 19 points on 7-8 shooting from the field and a perfect 5-5 from downtown. He knew he had to come out with a performance like that after only scoring one point the game before.
“I’m hard on myself, so I know I can’t have games like that if anything not back to back games like that,” Canaan said. “Just came in the last game with a different mind frame and it worked out for me.”
He has been in the league five years and has played with a lot of brilliant minds like Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. He knows how to bounce back from a tough game.
“Just not being passive,” Canaan said. “That’s not my game. I can’t play that way and I can’t go about my day like that. I just got to stay aggressive and just take what they give me and it worked out in my favor. Started making a couple shots and when you see the ball go in that’s always a positive and it helps the team.”
Canaan, Ayton and the Suns hope to carry this winning momentum into their game on Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.