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Monty Williams praises Suns’ ‘great deal of poise’ in Game 3 road win over Nuggets

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Phoenix stonewalled Denver after it found brief offensive momentum in the third quarter

NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said after his team’s 116-102 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals at Ball Arena on Friday night.

The Suns now have a 3-0 series lead after the win on Friday night, with the fourth and possibly final game of the series on Sunday.

On the Suns holding a double-digit lead for the entire fourth quarter in their fifth straight game:

“I’m just grateful for a win and the way we’re playing. The defensive side of the ball has been tremendous. The third quarter, holding them to 21 points, I thought that gave us a lot of confidence. The guys are just making plays for each other, playing with a great deal of energy and force and at the end, the spacing that we had when they were blitzing, we were getting open threes and looks at the rim. Those are the things that we work on in practice, so I’m glad we have those kinds of leads in the second half. As a coach, you’re just grateful for the win and grateful for the effort that the guys give to the team and each other.”

On the Suns responding to consecutive made shots from the Nuggets in the third quarter and what it says about his team’s resiliency:

“We talked about it this morning, having a great deal of poise and balance mentally. On their home floor, they’re going to have runs. But I thought we just played with a relentless attitude tonight — that’s been who we are, who we have been all season long. And they were scoring, we scored and then we started getting consecutive stops. And that third quarter, holding them, like I said, to 21 points, I thought that gave us a lot of confidence. And then in the fourth, we did what we had to do to get the win.”

On a timeout he called before the Suns went on a 14-2 run in the third and fourth quarters:

“We didn’t stress anything new — we just talked about being solid on the defensive end. We didn’t want to help as much when they were posting us up, and we certainly didn’t want to give up back door (cuts). But we’ve been talking about that all season. And the rebounding component, they had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and eight in the second. So that’s something that we have to get better at, as far as improving our team and trying to beat a really good team on their home floor. But it wasn’t anything new — we just tried to reiterate the things that we do well, and then we started to execute a little bit better on the offensive end and we knocked down a few shots.”

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

On Paul taking over in the fourth quarter for the third straight game and what he’s seen in those stretches:

“I mean, it’s the same thing we’ve seen from Chris for a long, long time now. His ability to understand those moments and managing the game. He was using the clock well, coming off pick-and-roll, getting to his spots. But it helps when you have guys like (starting forward) Jae (Crowder) and starting shooting guard [Devin Booker] and (starting forward) Mikal (Bridges) stretching the floor and then (starting center) [Deandre Ayton] puts pressure on the rim. But Chris’ ability to do it on both sides of the floor, I thought he had a really big steal on, I think it was (Nuggets guard Will) Barton one time, where got his hand on the ball. So it’s not just the offensive side. Defensively, he understands the moment. Offensively, he’s just managing the game really well. But that’s what he’s done for a long time.”

On fighting against Denver’s emotions from starting center Nikola Jokic receiving his Most Valuable Player award trophy before Game 3:

“We expected it. I’ve said this a number of times, we respect what Jokic has done this season, he’s the best player in the league for a reason. At the same time, we had a game to play and we knew that they might give him the trophy, and that was part of the poise that we talked about this morning, that we were going to have to fight that, the energy from the crowd. Those are huge moments for this organization and this city, and so we were fighting a lot of things. But I think because we have veteran guys who have been in a ton of situations, Chris and Jae, those guys were galvanizing the group even before jump ball like, ‘Let’s go.’ We’re here for business. And we didn’t want to disrespect Jokic’s moment. At the same time, we also came here to win a game. So that’s something that we’ve stressed for a while, is being able to have poise in those moments. Whether it’s an emotional fouling situations or it’s something like tonight, which is a pretty unique situation.”

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

His thoughts on the defensive effort from Suns starting center Deandre Ayton and others on Jokic:

“DA’s played him well. I think Jokic would say the same thing, a lot of his shots are tough shots. I’m looking from the bench and he’s elevating his shot, putting more arc on it because DA is so long and athletic. And so we like the way that DA is defending him, and we like our team defense around Jokic. He had a big night, but he took 29 shots and he’s a really good player, so he’s probably going to have those types of numbers. But we like the defense that DA is playing right now, and (backup forward) Dario (Saric). Dario is fighting Jokic and forcing him off of his sweet spot. Those guys are battling, and our team defense around that particular environment is pretty solid.”

On his communication with Paul when he’s in a zone with his playmaking:

“I try not to fill his head up with too much stuff and let him do his thing. We’ll communicate about something that I see on the floor or he sees, but for the most part, that’s just Chris. He’s an unbelievable basketball player but he has an unbelievable mind and will to play the game. So I’m not even sure he thinks about the turnovers — I think he’s just trying to make the right plays. And he’s putting guys in position to score the ball but again, he’s done that his whole career. So we do talk a lot in-game about something I see or he sees, but for the most part, that’s just him making plays.”

On the Suns winning each of the third quarters in this series by double digits and what has contributed to that:

“I have no idea. Every team makes adjustments or we try to do what we were trying to do better, but it certainly wasn’t anything on my part. It’s not a schematic thing or some clever speech, I’m just grateful that we’ve had those types of third quarters. That’s it...our guys have come out with a great deal of force and it starts with our defense. We’ve been able to get stops and consecutive stops in the third quarter, and that really gives us a lot of energy and juice because we can get out in transition.”