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Monty Williams on ‘unreal execution’ of Ayton ‘Valley-Oop’

Phoenix Suns are now two wins away from an NBA Finals berth

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

Here is what Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said after his team’s 104-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night at Phoenix Suns Arena.

On the inbounds play to starting center Deandre Ayton to win the game and how he felt the last few minutes transpired:

“You can sit here and talk about the plays being drawn up and all that — our guys just made plays and stuck with it. When the whistle didn’t go our way and the ball went out on (starting shooting guard) [Devin Booker], I thought we had really good poise during that time. The free throws that were missed, we talked about free-throw boxout all morning, because we had situations in Game 1 where we didn’t free-throw boxout. So (starting forward) Mikal (Bridges) makes a great rebound, we get a timeout. Credit to (starting forward) Jae (Crowder). We were trying to get a lob to (starting center) [Deandre Ayton], and he had the awareness to just put it up there where DA could only get it. And Book sets a great screen, Jae makes a great pass and it’s just one of those things that happens and you’re just grateful for it. The will of our guys to just stay with it. I didn’t think we played great tonight, but we made enough plays to win the game. So there was a lot of things that happened — I got to watch the film to make sure I’m not confused by all the events that happened. But it was unreal execution at the end. For us, the mental stamina to just stay in there and not give up when it looked like it wasn’t going to go our way.”

On Ayton imposing his will throughout the game and what he’s turned into as a post player:

“He’s starting to understand having a role doesn’t limit you. You know what I’m saying? Sometimes, when you tell a guy, ‘This is your role,’ and they tend to think like, ‘I can’t do anything else.’ He just has a big one. Defensively, the rebounding and then the ability to go at the end and get that ball when nobody else could go get it, says a lot about his mental maturity. A lot of times, you give up on plays like that when it’s that time on the clock. But I thought he showed a lot of stamina tonight, physically too. He was running hard and rebounding and (playing a) physical game. I could go on and on about where he was to where he is now. He’s just turning into a really dominant player on both ends of the floor.”

On the toughness from Booker to set the opening screen from Ayton with an injured nose:

“I heard the crowd going crazy, so it was either him or (starting point guard) Chris (Paul) coming through the entry way. I know his face was swollen, I know he was in pain. But that’s the will that I’ve been talking about that he has. I thought the shot that he hit over (Clippers guard Patrick) Beverley was just Book, and Chris has been talking to him all year about just getting to your spot. Don’t try to complicate it, he got to his spot and he made a big shot. And I thought his defense — even though he had fouls tonight, he played physical defense in a playoff game. We got to figure out how the refs are calling it, but the screen he set at the end, the other option, they made a mistake. Book just popped and got a shot. But his screen was tremendous.”

If the final play was in his playbook and if he picked it up from someone:

“It’s a different — typically run that more when it’s a typical [baseline out of bounds play]. It’s pretty much a combination of something that (former Philadelphia 76ers coach) Brett Brown used to run and (former Suns assistant coach) Joe Prunty ran a play when he was here with the Suns. (Former Suns center) Tyson Chandler got that like a slap-in. I wish I was that bright, but I’m not. I steal from everyone. The players, Jae just made a great pass, that’s the deal. He put it only where DA could get it, it’s great awareness by him.”

If the Suns had practiced that play:

“Nah. You walk through it, there’s so many situations you can walk through — we’ve never walked through that one. We tried to run it earlier in the year playing against Denver, and DA had to go up and catch it and bring it back down and try to score. I think he dunked it, but that was just Jae, Book’s screen and DA’s ability to go get the ball. Those three guys in that play, and (forward) Cam (Johnson) and (forward) Mikal (Bridges) getting out of their way. So like I said, I wish I was that bright but it doesn’t work out that way for me.”

On how he felt Booker played through the physicality of the Clippers’ defense:

“I think the game, it’s just playoff basketball. I’m not [inaudible], I understand the level of physicality that is going to be allowed. I think Book did a decent job of not letting it take him out of the game. He got into foul trouble and was able to play for a few more minutes without picking up his third in the first part of the game. But that’s just playoff basketball, when guys are understanding it. And I can’t reiterate enough, just having Jae and (starting point guard) Chris (Paul) and (backup guards) E’Twaun (Moore) and Langston (Galloway) around this year to talk to our guys about these types of games. It’s helped us a ton.”

On showing poise without Paul available even though he wasn’t at the first two games:

“He’s a winner. He has an impact on winning, he’s had an impact on the growth of our guys. He’s had a huge impact on me. We had him on FaceTime in the locker room. He and I were just talking about a number of things. But Chris, everywhere he goes, he has a positive, winning impact on any group that he’s involved with.”

On his team stepping up to win without Paul:

“We have depth on our team. It’s young depth, but we have depth. Against a deep team like the Clippers, you just need it. And there’s not a lot of room for drop-off. When one guy goes down, you need the guys who are playing to play at a high level, and (backup guard) Cam Payne was tremendous tonight. His ability to get into the paint and score the ball was huge for us. Cam Johnson has been solid off the bench, too, two games in a row, (Backup forward) Dario (Saric) gave us big minutes tonight, he hit a 3(-pointer), he was decent in the paint tonight, extremely good when they tried to switch on him, put a smaller guy on him. You could go across the board and see the contributions from our team because of the depth that we have.”

On the crowd potentially affecting Clippers forward Paul George’s two missed free throws at the end:

“I’m just grateful for our fanbase. This might be the loudest place I’ve ever been in my career, it’s just that loud. So, what effect did that have? I don’t know, but our fans give it up every single night. And it’s just good to have them in the house, especially in those moments. So again, I’m just grateful for them.”

On his faith during the game:

“I don’t really know how it works when it comes to faith and winning. I think God is more concerned with how we deal with both the winning and losing, but I was praying. I was just out there man. My shirt was wet, and I was just thinking to myself, ‘Come on Lord, please let me have.’ That kind of thing. But I don’t know how that works, I’m just grateful that it went our way this time. But as it relates to faith, I think God is more concerned with how you deal with the winning and the losing to have a level of humility and hope. And I’ve lost enough to master humility, what I’ve lost. So I want to try to display the same in moments like this. I’m just grateful that it went our way.”

On the play to Ayton compared to others he has seen in his career:

“I’ve seen some crazy plays. I remember (former Houston Rockets center) Ralph Sampson tapping that thing up back in the day (the 1986 Western Conference Finals). I’ve been a part of an alley-oop where we on defense and we tapped it in for the other team when I was in New Orleans. That was a heartbreaking play, so it’s hard to say. If you’re around the game long enough, you’re going to see a lot. For me, an amazing play for us. And I can’t tell you — the pass that Jae made and DA’s ability to go get that ball and Devin’s screen won’t work if you don’t have those guys executing those kinds of plays.”

“Like I told everybody, he was probably playing with a great deal of pain from the time he got hit. I thought he broke his nose when I saw it. And then I was worried about the blood continuing to flow. But Devin said it last game, he has a tremendous will. His conditioning is unmatched, and the ability to set that kind of screen, knowing that everybody’s going to be draped all over him says a lot about his willingness to make a play for his team. It was just a cool moment for us, and we’re just thankful that it went our way.”

On the Suns’ mindset moving over to Los Angeles:

“It’s a great question, because we do have a young team and a lot of young guys who are playing in situations they’ve never been in before. But you only get the experience by going through it, and playing in Denver helped because they had a ton of fans that were going nuts for their team. But I just think that the last part of our schedule, some of those games we played in Milwaukee and New York on the road, I think that will help our guys. But I also feel like the veterans on our team will help our young guys navigate through all that. And once you start playing, you know how it is. Just kind of lose focus on all that, you just focus on going through the game. So I hope that’s our approach as we shift the series over to LA.”

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