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‘We’re all locked in’: Booker, Bridges and Crowder on Suns’ blowout Game 5 win, mindset for closeout opportunity

The Suns have a chance to eliminate the Lakers in Game 6 on Thursday

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

Here is what Phoenix Suns starting shooting guard Devin Booker and forwards Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder said after their 115-85 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on Tuesday night at Phoenix Suns Arena.

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

Devin Booker

On finding an early rhythm in the first quarter:

“Just wanted to be aggressive. I’ve been studying the games, been watching film and I think I passed up on a lot of easy quick ones. And having conversations with (Phoenix Suns coach) [Monty Williams] and (starting point guard) Chris (Paul) and all the team, them guys giving me the confidence, them guys setting screens and putting me in position to do what I do.”

On playing in front of a sellout crowd with over 16,000 fans:

“That’s what I play the game for, for these type of atmospheres and these type of games. This is my first experience in the playoffs, and just the mentality of, ‘The next game is the most important game of my career.’ It’s a fun thing for me to play with — we’re all locked in, man. Top to bottom, just feeling the energy at shootaround and through film sessions. Everything goes up a level, and it’s some fun basketball.”

On what has helped the Suns play well in transition this series:

“Just playing without fouling. I think that was a tough part for us in the games that we lost, allowing them to set up their defense, not only the two points from the free-throw line, but them getting back and scouting our offense and knowing exactly what we’re doing. And transition is kind of a free-for-all with the correct spacing, creators and shooters that we have.”

On the Suns’ mantra of ‘relentless’ and how it showed in Game 5:

“It’s just how the guys are built, individually and as a collective group. If you go down the list of all the players, there’s nobody that’s scared of the moment. There’s nobody that hasn’t prepared for this moment. This isn’t new, this is how we’ve been playing for most of the season. We’ve had ups and downs, but we’re a confident team and we play hard all the way through.”

On his reaction when Paul re-injured his shoulder in the third quarter and conversations with him on the sideline:

“It’s tough. Obviously, it’s part of the game. Looking at the replay, I don’t think it was anything too malicious from (Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard) Wes (Matthews), and Chris communicated that with him. But it’s unfortunate that he’s dealing with that already, and it’s a physical game and plays like that happen. But to see him in good spirit coming back out to the bench and his ability to make those two free throws and see his strength still there is good. But I know he’s doing treatment around the clock, I know he’s getting ready for Thursday and that’s our next goal.”

If he feels like he has improved with game-to-game adjustments and the physicality of the postseason:

“Yeah. Every game is a new experience, and I think every game has its own characteristics and different way. So every game is a new goal to accomplish, and you have to have a short memory and move on to the next one. And that’s what we’ve done, that’s how we’ve been able to get two in a row. But we know Game 6 isn’t going to be easy, it’s going be tough there in [Los Angeles] but we’re ready for it.”

On how excited he is for the closeout opportunity:

“Like I said earlier, the playoffs is fun. Every next game is the biggest game of my career. So it’s fun to be around this. It’s fun to prepare for it, it’s fun to get ready for. So we’re looking forward to it.”

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

Mikal Bridges:

On how much energy the Suns fans provided on Tuesday:

“A lot. They got us going, for sure. We’re going to go out there and play hard, but getting stops and shots, they get us going and get us amped up. And we needed them, for sure.”

On the Suns having only four turnovers compared to 29 assists:

“That’s what we do. We look for each other, try to find each other and guys with the ball in their hands, making right plays and other guys just being ready and trying to make a play and make our shots. So just kudos to everybody for being aggressive and being ready.”

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

Jae Crowder

On what impressed him most about how his team played:

“Just how we came out with energy. They came out with the same energy and they hit a few shots early. We just stayed poised. Every time they went on a run, we responded to it the right way. I can honestly say we responded the right way, and that’s what it’s all about. Because both teams are going to go on runs, just got to respond to them. And I think tonight, we did a good job of doing that.”

On the focus he saw from Booker in the first quarter:

“I mean, we all locked in right now. If you ain’t locked in right now, you stick out like a sore thumb. So everybody’s locked in, mentally, physically. Obviously, he just got some looks there early and was able to get going. And we went with the game plan like that, and we was able to just continue to put pressure on their defense and make reads out of it, out of the double teams and what not. So he was very aggressive early and it paid off.”

On the Suns’ focuses as they look to close out the Lakers on Thursday:

“Just wrap our heads around, ‘This is going to be the hardest game of the series.’ Hardest-played game of the series for both teams and obviously, we’re on the road, so we got to stay together. Especially when they go on a run and the crowd gets into it, we just got to stay together and weather the storm a little bit together, collectively and come out on top. But it’s going to be the hardest-fought game of the series, so that’s my message to our team, that’s my mindset going into it. It’s going to be the hardest game of the series.”

On how the Suns’ relentlessness played out in Game 5:

“We’re just trying to continue to impose our will for 48 minutes, and it takes a lot. It’s easier said than done, it just takes a lot. It takes everybody to be on the same page, our focus needs to be where it has been the past few games. So we got to continue to stay the course and continue to be relentless and continue to do it together, collectively. But it definitely takes all of us to continue to play and continue to pursue the style of play that we want to play each and every night. So it’s definitely relentless, how we played tonight and we got to continue to do it next game.”

On what was going through his mind once he saw Paul re-injure his right shoulder in the third quarter:

“First, I was just trying to see if it was a dirty play or not. I didn’t know if they was playing like that or not, but Wes Matthews is my big brother. We both went to Marquette, and I just went up and talked to him and he was like, ‘I wasn’t try to do anything dirty or hurt him. I went in for the rebound and I just got a piece of him.’ And Chris went back and came out of the locker room, he watched it and he said it was a clean play, it wasn’t nothing intentional. So we went with that, so it just so happened to Chris. It scared him a little bit, hopefully he’s able to go next game, I’m sure he’ll be able to go. But we’ll take it day-to-day.”

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