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‘That was a concert’: Paul, Bridges and Ayton love team effort in playoff opener

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The Suns responded to the Lakers multiple times to win Game 1

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what Phoenix Suns starting guard Chris Paul, forward Mikal Bridges and center Deandre Ayton said after their 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.

Chris Paul

On how his right shoulder feels after he suffered a contusion in the second quarter and how much pain he was in after returning to the game:

“I’ll be alright. I’ll be alright, just kept thinking to myself, ‘Get through the game.’ I know I got a great team around me, people that help me work on my body and stuff like that all the time as well as the Suns organization. So I’ll be alright.”

On how the injury occurred:

“I don’t know, I ain’t seen it yet. I ain’t seen it yet. I was going up and I just remember I felt or heard a crack or whatever.”

If he will be good to play for Game 2:

“Absolutely.”

On how proud he was of his Suns teammates when he was out:

“That’s how we’ve been all season long. We’ve been a complete team, so I wasn’t worried. When I go out, (Suns backup point guard) Cam Payne comes in. I was mad Cam got ejected just because he’s such a big part of our team. But things happen, it’s an emotional game. But this game is representative of how we’ve been all season long, next man up and just play together.”

What allows him to push through his injuries:

“It’s funny man. Last night, my trainer, David Alexander, actually sent me this four-minute clip on Kobe (Bryant). And it was crazy, I listened to it before the game and Kobe just talking about the work ethic that you put in and stuff like that. In the thing, Kobe says, ‘Injuries, sometimes you can’t (inaudible) with them.’ So all that was sitting in my mind as I got hit. But once I got here to the back and they checked me out, I knew if there was any way I could play, I was going to.”

If a thought crossed his mind that he wouldn’t be able to return to the game:

“Once I seen what it was or what I couldn’t do, (Suns assistant coach) Willie Green came up to me and he was like, ‘All they took away is your shooting, so figure out ways to make plays.’ And we just got such a good team, and that’s one game, that’s one game there. But if there’s a way, you always want to make sure you don’t hurt your team but we just scrap.”

On the difficulty of Booker’s passes tonight, leading to his eight assists:

“I got to go back and watch the game again. Book was just, he was great tonight. It was crazy, it’s a lot of those situations where like, I had the ball or I want the ball to orchestrate it just to see him manage the game. And I was just out there kind of mad at myself I couldn’t help him more. But I think everybody’s been waiting to see him in a playoff game and you got to see it.”

If the Suns’ transition efforts were a point of emphasis and how much it set the tone for the Suns:

“We just tried to push the tempo. That’s how we play every night. Really fed off our crowd’s energy. It was crazy, got out there for warmups and I was like, ‘Damn.’ To see fans back, courtside, the energy in the building. I’ve been here for a whole season and it’s the first time it’s felt like the Phoenix Suns that I used to play against on other teams. So it was nice to see all the fans here and all the people.”

Deandre Ayton

On how he felt like he performed while guarding Lakers forward Anthony Davis:

“Just my guys having my back, helping me with AD. Just trying to play hard and try to match the energy as best as I can. Just throughout the game, it was great plays and can’t know when they’ll make great plays. So just being ready and that’s about it.”

On how the Suns performed in transition:

“That’s how we play. We’re young guys and we like to run, we just try to keep that.”

On what he’d like the Suns to carry forward in this series:

“Just making sure we stay together. Once we keep emphasizing togetherness as a unit, we’ll be fine.”

His thoughts on Paul’s injury and subsequent return:

“We all knew it was a basketball play, nothing intentional. We just know it was an awkward position for him and probably got hit bad. But just how both teams really, it was bigger than basketball. We saw both teams hovering around him and making sure to see if he was OK. That was the big part about it that really warmed everybody’s hearts that was on the floor. Although we were competing, trying to kill one another and get the win but at the end of the day, it was still bigger than basketball. Seeing [Paul] go down and him getting back up, it just shows the type of time it is and type of environment we’re in. We have to be ready, there’s going to be plays like this and it’s all about being together and knowing the task at hand.”

On the Suns’ crowd at home:

“Crowd was amazing. I told [Paul] today, I was like, ‘That’s the most intense game I’ve ever played in my life.’ I was really quiet the whole time, just trying to play hard. I was just really embracing everything that was going on, and the fans, that was a concert. That was a concert.”

Mikal Bridges

On his first playoff game:

“It was good man. Glad we got the win. Missed a lot of freebies today, layups, so get that out of the way. But it was fun, just the electricity in there. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I’ve been in the gym when it’s packed, it’s been so long. The nerves were going a little bit, I was like, ‘OK.’ Get used to it again, but it was fun man. Just a competitive game, both sides and we just went out at the end.”

On the status of starting point guard Chris Paul, who suffered a right shoulder contusion in the second quarter:

“I think he’s doing fine. He knows his body more than anybody, so he’s going to do a great job of taking care of it and letting us know. But I don’t want to see nobody, especially nobody on the other team, no opponent but especially not our own guys going down. Just was praying for him, hoping that he was OK. And he came back and just rallied with him. When he went out, you hold it down for him, even if he didn’t come back. We was going to hold it down for him but he came back and fought through it. He’s tough, he’s not going to give in. I know he’s been hurt in playoff series before and I knew he definitely didn’t want to miss out on this one.”

On what allowed Paul to persevere:

“Just him being Chris Paul. Just him being a leader, playing in a game so many times and talking and communicating, being in the right spots. He scored a couple times, which I actually didn’t even think he was going to make but other than that, he was still doing what he was doing. I know he was hurting but he was still out there communicating and giving it his all.”

On the Suns’ poise throughout the game despite having several players who have not been in the playoffs before:

“Just staying together. Times get tough, we don’t separate, we stay together. And we’re going to fight through together. No matter what the situation is, and that’s why I love these guys, the coaches as well. And we’re going to stay true to ourselves, we’re going to stay together and we’re going to lock in even more.”

On the performances of Booker and Ayton:

“Unbelievable. Just Book being Book, being aggressive and then DA being aggressive as well. A lot of key points he had with the offensive rebounds and just stuff that hurts other teams, what DA was doing. And Book, just being Book man. Getting to that basket, hitting tough shots. That’s who he is man, he’s been ready for the moment and he’s always going to be who he is.”