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Postgame: Players, coach react to Game 2 loss, road ahead

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The Suns rallied from a 15-point third quarter deficit but could not hold off a late Lakers run on Tuesday

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

Here is what Phoenix Suns starting shooting guard Devin Booker, forward Jae Crowder, center Deandre Ayton and backup point guard Cameron Payne said after their 109-102 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on Tuesday night.

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

Devin Booker

On the Suns’ ability to tie the game in the fourth quarter after trailing by 15 in the third and what they can build on for Game 3:

“We just have to move on to the next game. It’s a tough one tonight, we fought all the way through. Just came up short in the end.”

On what it was like seeing Suns starting point guard Chris Paul trying to play through his right shoulder contusion before he was removed from the game by coach Monty Williams:

“I mean, that’s Chris man. He’s going to fight. He’s a warrior out there and I know he doesn’t want anything more than to win these games. So I know he’s going to do everything in his power to be out there. Obviously, it’s still bothering him and we have a short couple days that he can get some recovery and treatment in to hopefully get it right for the next game.”

If the Suns missed Paul especially in the final minutes of the game, when the Lakers went on a 7-0 run to help secure their win:

“At all times, we miss him. And it’s going to be tough but we all have to step up. We don’t know how his health is right now and how quick he’s going to recover, but everybody has to give a little bit more.”

On his individual mentality and that of his team while playing the next two games of the series in Los Angeles:

“Just win the game. One at a time, so worry about Game 3 first and then we’ll move into Game 4 Sunday. But we got to come out ready to play, which I think we did tonight. We just need to clean up a few more things.”

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

Jae Crowder

On how challenging it was for the Suns playing without Paul for extensive stretches:

“Obviously, he’s a key piece to this puzzle. Yeah, it’s difficult but we have enough to get the job done, especially here on our home court, we felt like we had enough. But it is tough, can’t even lie. It’s not easier without him on the court, but we have enough. We just got to figure it out, make some adjustments and come back for Game 3.”

On what adjustments the Suns need to make before Game 3:

“Fouling, I guess. One person (Lakers forward Anthony Davis) shot 21 free throws, so can’t expect to win a game if one person shoots 21 free throws, so we got to do a better job of defending without fouling. And I think turnovers hurt us in this game a little bit. We had 13 turnovers to their seven. That led to a lot of transition points and a lot of things to get those guys going on that end. So we got to cut those things out and make a few adjustments and get ready for Game 3.”

On the Suns’ 14-7 run to start the fourth quarter to tie the game at 86 and what worked in that stretch:

“Just doing it together, like we’ve been doing all year. We do have a lot of players in there who have a lot of pride and feel like they can get it done. But we got to continue to do it collectively. I think that got us back in the game, once we started to play with each other on both ends of the court and gain some momentum. And that’s what it’s going to take for Game 3. Especially on the road in the playoffs, you got to do it, everything got to be together. When they go on a run, we got to band together, we got to stay together and just continue to lean on one another and get it done collectively. So that was my message, that was the approach.”

On the offensive looks that the Suns are getting and if it’s the chances they’re wanting to get:

“At times. I feel like at times, we’re trying to read on the fly, we’re trying to do a lot of things. We’re trying to make the right plays, we’re not doing anything selfishly. We’re just trying to do it at a faster pace than what we would like. They sped us up tonight a little bit and it led to them getting to the ball and getting us a few turnovers but we definitely can find ways to make those shots a lot easier for ourselves, and we got to step into them and knock them down. So we got to continue to generate good looks and trust our work, knowing it’s going to pay off.”

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

Deandre Ayton

His thoughts on the Suns’ ability to erase a 15-point deficit but not finish the game with a win:

“I would say it was a longer game. I don’t know man, it was just a tough game today. Us trying to match the physicality and not having [Paul] out there as much on the floor, shout out to Cam Payne for doing what he did to hold it down for us. But we kept trying and we kept pushing and the crowd helped us get back into it later in the stretch. And the better team got today.”

On how he gathered himself mentally to post eight second-half rebounds:

“Just put my head down and if they call the foul, they call the foul. Still attack on the glass and that’s what I’m known for, that’s what I’m good at, that’s my advantage. So just put my head down and just compete on the glass. Try not to get complacent, I just try to keep my energy throughout the whole game just to get me going. And rebounds is a big part of it, just crashing the glass...feeling the physicality. Just staying within the game.”

On the mood of the Suns’ locker room after the game and how he envisions their response leading up to Game 3:

“One thing about us, losses does not change anything. We stick to our culture and we still have each others’ backs to the end. We just got to get back together and do what we have to do and play our type of basketball. But the locker room is always uplifting. You can’t really tell we lost a game, really when you’re in the locker room, especially big games like this. At the end of the day, we still had fun and it ain’t like this is this team’s second time. This is our first time. At the end of the day, we’re still enjoying ourselves, we’re still doing the job at hand.”

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

Cameron Payne

On watching Paul struggle with his right shoulder contusion:

“It was tough. It’s always tough to see anybody out there on our team down, can’t really help us out. We’ll get him back. It was tough, but we got (a) next-man mentality. So everybody got to be ready.”

On what he felt he did well during his 19-point, seven-assist performance in nearly 33 minutes:

“Running in transition, I don’t know what I shot. I wish I could have made some more shots, I missed some layups. It was just playing free, just running in transition, try our best to get stops so we can push.”

On what enabled the Suns’ ability to tie the game in the fourth quarter:

“I feel like we have been in those positions before, and we just feel like we can win every game. So we just keep willing. Fans in there going crazy helped us out too, but we just always just try to stay poised. We know it’s going to be a lot of adversity in the game, it’s all about who can take that punch and keep pushing, who can take that last one and keep pushing. And we just go to get over that hump next game. We had some key turnovers that kind of put us in bad spots.”

On what’s different about the work he puts into his game now versus his rookie season:

“Honestly, the way I work now, I work to not have my job taken. Before, I’d probably say I was comfortable. I probably wouldn’t say I wasn’t listening but I listened, I just didn’t take it in. I didn’t take it in. They always say young guys, older guys tell you everything but we don’t always listen. And from being out of the league, it’s just every time I get an opportunity, every practice, I can get better in something. So I work hard, I work to keep my job. I got to earn it all, so I go in humble but confident. I just have to keep working hard, and the work shows. Go in, get my reps. He got this quote, ‘Reps remove doubt.’ So when I get out there on the court, I put the work in and I got to show and just be aggressive. But it’s just thinking your job can be gone. It hit me in the face already, I done got hit with that reality check and I don’t want to not be in the league. So I just work really hard every day to stay here. Just don’t never want to be out.”

On the biggest challenges the Lakers’ defense presented:

“We just got to try not to turn the ball over. They got great size, great length. I just wish [Paul] was out there, I just with [Paul] was healthy. But we had a lot of turnovers that fueled their offense. Next game, we just got to take care of the ball. I feel like that was one of the biggest keys to the game tonight, and we still had an opportunity to win. But the turnovers got the best of us. I think it was 34 they scored off our turnovers and offensive rebounds. We just got to be better, got to be better.”