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Monty Williams on ‘unacceptable’ slow start from Suns with chance to advance to NBA Finals

The Suns came out flat and ended up being battered in Game 5 by the Clippers

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

Here is what Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said after his team’s 116-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on Monday night.

On what he attributed to the Suns’ 20-5 deficit they fell in to start the game:

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

“I don’t have an answer for what I attribute it to, it’s just unacceptable the way we started the game. A big hole for us, pretty obvious that we can’t play with a, ‘show-up,’ mentality. We showed up in the first quarter, and they played with desperation. Simple and plain.”

On what he felt like the Suns were missing to get over the hump:

“Guarding the ball, simple as that. That’s basketball, universal 101: You got to be able to guard the ball. They hit some tough shots, and you give them credit. They had 58 points in the paint. That’s not something you would have expected, especially with them not having (starting center Ivica) Zubac play. So we will be better the next game. That’s paramount on my mind is, we got to play with way more force and a competitive edge and we got to guard the ball.”

On the play of Clippers backup center Demarcus Cousins, who had 15 points in 11 minutes off the bench:

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

“When you have to double guys like that, it forces you into rotations. Didn’t meet him early, we let him get right to the block tonight. He got whatever he wanted for the time he was in the game, but he was a presence tonight. They played with determination. We have to realize we’re trying to close out a series against a team that’s been there before. They’re going to claw, scratch and do whatever it takes. We have to have that mentality. I didn’t feel that in the first quarter. As the game progressed, we had it and then they had confidence because they were making shots.”

On what change the Clippers presented that allowed them to be successful without Zubac:

“I didn’t think we showed them enough bodies, even when they were in 1-on-1 situations. I thought we were spread out. We looked it at halftime — we could see nothing but the paint. Instead of seeing Suns bodies and arms, even when they were in isolation situations with (starting forward) Paul (George) and (starting guard) Reggie (Jackson) and (starting forward) Marcus (Morris), we didn’t show them enough bodies. And when they have a small lineup like that, they’re going to try to spread you out. Again, it comes down to being able to guard the ball and forcing them to shoot tough shots. We let Paul go left, stepback, how many times did we see that tonight? Reggie went left into his shot. There were times where we were shifting too far off of Reggie, he hit some deep threes. But in that moment, you have to understand he’s going to take those shots, especially late in the game.”

On his assessment of how the Suns fared against the Clippers’ zone defense:

“We held the ball too much. That’s all we talked about was, once the ball gets to the second side, take off. We would shoot it or get to the paint. When we did it, it looked pretty good. And I thought we allowed them to force us on the side of the floor instead of getting over top of the screens. When you get over the top of the screen versus the zone, then you can force them into rotations. We didn’t do a good job of that tonight. But we will — we will be better. They’ll probably do the same thing, throw some defenses at us like that and we have to be better.”

On what the Suns learned from their third closeout opportunity this postseason:

“The desperation has to be there — that’s the deal. Just because you have a lead in the series doesn’t mean you can show up and they’re going to give it to you. We have to understand that, and I think we do now. We will be better when we show up the next time we play. But their desperation, their competitive edge tonight was consistent for 48 minutes. We did it in spurts, and we certainly didn’t start the game with it.”

On what he thought of starting center Deandre Ayton’s performance, recording 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting and 11 rebounds:

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

“I thought they put a lot of bodies on DA. When he was diving, he saw two bodies, three bodies at times. When he was trying to get to the offensive boards, he had two guys boxing him out. And that means the corner guys can come in and get some offensive rebounds. He had an imprint on the previous game, and they did a really good job of sending bodies to him tonight. He’s going to figure that out, we’ll show him on the film. When you see DA in a game like this, as much as we missed with only three offensive rebounds, I got to look at the film. But from the eye test, it just looked like they sent two bodies to keep him off the glass tonight. They did a good job.”

On the switch the Suns need to turn on to play with more desperation:

“Getting your butt kicked like that should turn it on. I think our guys are feeling it right now. We’ve already talked about it, we’ll talk about it again tomorrow. But from a competitive standpoint, they got us. And that should turn your switch on. We should play Suns basketball with that edge and that relentlessness every time we step on the floor. We didn’t do it consistently, and tonight is a reminder that you have to play 48 minutes in that mode, especially in the playoffs.”

On his reaction to the flagrant foul that was assessed to Clippers guard Patrick Beverley in the third quarter after he landed into Suns starting point guard Chris Paul:

“Some of the stuff that’s happening, it is what it is. But when a guy does that kind of stuff consistently, what do you say as a coach? I can call the league, I can talk to the officials in the NBA. It doesn’t do anything until something’s done about it. Those kind of plays are dangerous, you know what I mean? (Suns starting forward) Jae (Crowder) gets a flagrant for touching a guy in the face. That play with Chris, I got to watch it more in the film, but we can’t let those kinds of plays get into our heads. They were physical tonight, that was an example of it. I want to watch the film before I make a declaration about that play. But they played desperate. Do I think it was a dirty play? No. But I think even when you’re playing with a certain degree of aggressiveness, it can come off the wrong way.”

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