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Monty Williams on Suns’ rebounding, home crowd energy in Game 1 win over Lakers

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The Suns held a plus-14 margin over the Lakers on the glass and had 52 points in the paint

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said after his team’s 99-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs on Sunday afternoon.

On the status of starting point guard Chris Paul’s after he suffered a right shoulder contusion in the second quarter:

“I don’t know the particulars of what happened. I was so locked into the game, I just know he was sore. I talked to him briefly just now and his words to me was, he was OK and he’ll be OK going forward. But he was pretty sore when he came back but him playing today gave us a lot of juice, a lot of energy. It was inspirational to watch him out there giving his all on both ends of the floor. We’ll have something more official as we go forward but right now, I don’t have much.”

On the Suns’ defensive effort in the game:

“We’ve been trying to impress upon our guys in the playoffs, ‘Defense and rebounding translates.’ A lot of the time, you know their plays, they know your plays and it comes down to being able to properly space and you got to make shots. But the defense and the rebounding is something that can translate from the regular season to postseason, and our defense was decent tonight. Those guys missed shots, for sure. I don’t want to say too much until I watch the film, but the effort was there on both sides of the ball. Both teams just going blow-for-blow, and we came out on the positive side tonight.”

On the energy from Phoenix’s fans with 11,824 fans in attendance:

“I didn’t anticipate that tonight, it was weird. I’m not quite sure how many people we had in the arena tonight but when I came out and saw that many people and heard the noise, I was like, ‘Holy smokes, this is pretty cool.’ I had to get myself under control emotionally because I hadn’t been in that environment in a long time, and it certainly helped us tonight to have our fans, as crazy as Suns Nation is, going nuts like that for our guys. It was pretty cool to be involved in that. I’ve experienced it on the other side as an opponent, but it was pretty cool tonight to have that many people in the gym cheering for our team.”

On how he proud he is of his younger players persevering through their first playoff game:

“That’s something we’ve been talking about as a team, as a staff. There’s going to be a moment in the game where you’re going to have to regulate your emotions, and we knew that they were going to be more physical in the second half. We just saw what they did in the Golden State game, so we were somewhat prepared for it but then when a guy (Suns backup point guard Cameron Payne) gets ejected, you have to regulate yourself even more and we just talked about our guys having poise after the game. It’s one game, you’re playing against the defending champs. It’s a situation where you’re grateful for the win, but you have to come in tomorrow with a heightened sense of awareness and respect for who you’re playing against. Have an appropriate fear for two of the greatest players who have ever played the game (Lakers forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis), come in with even more poise and energy and focus as we go forward.”

On starting center Deandre Ayton’s 21-point, 16-rebound performance on 10-of-11 shooting and defense on Davis:

“To play in his first playoff game and have that kind of production on the offensive end, have 16 rebounds, I thought DA was pretty sound as far as not going for pump fakes and having to stick hand up. Anthony missed some shots but I thought DA did a really good job of just trying to stay in front of him. He’s an all-world player, and so DA’s going to have to be even better in Game 2. We know what we’re going to face when we play these guys again.”

On how Paul’s toughness affected his team:

“Any time a guy lays it on the line physically like that after taking that kind of a hit, going in the back and then coming out playing, it gives you juice. And then you think about every experience Chris has had, how many games he’s played, everything he’s accomplished. Nobody would have faulted him for not coming back. But when he did come back and we could see the emotion on his face, and I thought that drove our guys. I got emotional just watching him battle tonight, and I love Chris. He and I have been friends for a long time, so I had to think about his well-being but also trust him that he was OK. But it gave not only our team juice, but I think it gave our fans a jolt to see him come back and play in the game.”

On the passing of starting shooting guard Devin Booker, who had eight assists along with 34 points and seven rebounds:

“Book has this reputation as a scorer, but he’s an unbelievably good passer. And not only did he pass well tonight, but he was doing a really good job of pulling the double team away from the paint, and that opened up stuff for us on the back side. He’s always been a good passer. He makes the right passes, when he sees the double team, he gets off of it. That’s who he is and probably doesn’t get enough credit for his willingness to pass and the high level of passing that he displays on a night-in, night-out basis.”

On what he wanted his team to take from the aftermath of Payne’s ejection in the third quarter:

“We’ve had situations in the past where we didn’t necessarily handle those moments well. I’ve been around long enough to know that that can change a game, when there’s an ejection or there’s some physical activity on the floor. We’ve been talking about this as I said for a long time, and so this is one of many moments as we journey through these playoffs that we have to handle well. And I thought our guys deserved the credit for not only being prepared for it but executing out of that stoppage of play well. It certainly helps to have that happen on your home floor and have your fans behind you.”

On the Suns’ rebounding efforts with a 47-33 margin against the Lakers:

“It doesn’t help if we don’t have our guards and wings getting in there to help DA out. DA had 16, but Book had seven, (Suns starting forwards) Mikal (Bridges) and Jae (Crowder) had four, Chris had four. (Backup wing) Cam Johnson had six. So it’s a term we use all the time, ‘gang rebounding.’ And sometimes it gets lost in translation. We had great team rebounding tonight. Our team stayed in there and got enough boards to get that type of advantage. We had one segment on the free-throw box out where they got a couple of them, and that kind of changed the game a little bit. And then we got DA back in the game and he took control again with his ability to create space but his ability to rebound out of his position.”