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Chris Paul, Jae Crowder break down Suns’ terrific 3-point shooting, togetherness in Game 2

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The Suns’ veterans were each proud of their team after they took a 2-0 series lead

NBA: Finals-Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — Here is what Phoenix Suns starting point guard Chris Paul and starting forward Jae Crowder said after their team’s 118-108 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on Thursday night.

NBA: Finals-Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Paul

On why Suns starting shooting guard Devin Booker is built for clutch moments like the fourth quarter:

“Big time. Big time. He could tell you better than I can, but he has trained and worked his whole life for these moments. And our team all season long has been, ‘You put the work in, you live with the results.’ So, if Book shoots it, I expect it to go in. I get mad at him when he don’t shoot. So, big shots.”

If his passing ability has rubbed off on his teammates, given the Suns’ first-half possession in which they shared the ball several times before a score from starting center Deandre Ayton:

“We have a saying with our team, it’s called, ‘Good to great.’ We pass up good shots to get great shots and it’s the unselfishness of our team. Any coach in America, I’m sure they would love to show their team that clip, and DA finishes at the end.”

On the performance of Suns starting forward Mikal Bridges:

“I be on ‘Kal so crazy, you know what I mean? Because ‘Kal is just a winner. He’s a winner. When we won the Western Conference Finals, I looked at him and I had a flashback of him being at Villanova. I remember him winning a championship there (he won two). He’s just a winner. He’s going to do whatever you need him to do, offensively or defensively, and it’s good to see him playing like this.”

On the 3-pointer he hit when following an offensive rebound from Bridges and Ayton, respectively, in the fourth quarter:

“It was huge. It was like the play of the game. DA, he was — he’s so hard on himself. He’s so mad at how he played and whatnot, but I tell him if he doesn’t get that offensive rebound and find me there in the corner, that’s probably the biggest play of the game. So, it just shows you how we all have to stay the course.”

If he has felt playing an NBA Finals late in his career more challenging since he conceivably does not have many opportunities left to get there:

NBA: Finals-Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

“No, I have a pretty good — I do a pretty good job of staying in the moment. Maybe a lot of the guys on our team, it’s their first playoff series, they don’t know the heartache or the heartbreak. They’re just out there playing. So for me, I know how quick things can change. I know how a possession or a play can change the dynamics of an entire series. So, for me I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low. I just stay even-keel.”

On how Booker can continue to play with a high motor throughout a game:

NBA: Finals-Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

“He just stays in attack mode all game long. And that’s what I love about him. I think me and him together, we’ve just built so much trust. He’s like, ‘Here C, go,’ or I go to him. And whatever happens during the game, you just know that there’s never any malicious intent. He just wants to win. He’s going to do whatever he has to do to help our team win and it’s nice.”

If he felt the Suns could be this successful when he was traded this offseason:

“I know me. I know how hard I work during the summer. I know how I play. I knew the pieces that was here. I knew Book was here. Like I said, I knew the pieces. I knew (Suns coach) Monty (Williams). I knew that we would have a system, I knew that we would build trust. So, I’m not surprised.”

On the confidence that Suns general manager James Jones had in him:

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

“JJ is our GM but he is like my counterpart, he’s like my brother. So, like we have been through so many different things with the CBA negotiations, so it was easy to talk to him about me wanting to be here. It’s nice when you have a relationship like that, because you can be honest no matter what, good or bad. You know you’re going to shoot it to each other straight, and that’s how it’s always been.”

On what allows Booker to embrace big moments:

“I mean, Book had 70 in a game before, you know what I mean? So, you don’t do that being shy. You don’t do that being shy. Like I said, he puts the work in. That’s what a lot of people don’t see. You see the games, you don’t see all the shots after practice and all this different type stuff. So, he’s built for it. He’s built for it. Like I said, that was something that I saw before I came here and it’s nice to be on his team.”

On the work that Booker puts into his game:

“Book, I don’t know, it’s the treatment, it’s the shots, it’s the everything. We have a day in between games or something, I might shoot a little and then sit out. Book like, really wants to shoot some shots, wants to go in there and shoot some shots. And everything is game speed. But we got a work team. So, it’s not just Book, it’s (backup point guard) Cam Payne, it’s Jae, it’s everybody. We got a work team. It’s nice to be a part of it.”

On when he felt he and Booker built a special chemistry in their trust for one another:

NBA: Finals-Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I just know that I remember being on that one road trip (in the beginning of the season) and coach telling us we had the worst plus/minus starting five, that hurt. That hurt. I ain’t never been on a minus side or any of that stuff. But we knew that we had to figure it out. Like if we wanted to get where we are now, we knew we had to figure it out. So, we did it and we are going to keep it going.”

On how the Suns’ starting five became more effective:

“I don’t know. I think our defense got better. We started working on screening angles. We started running our sets. I missed most of training camp. I missed a lot of that time, so I didn’t really know the offense like that. So, once we started playing and getting the continuity and once you get some wins, you really start getting confidence.”

On the Suns hitting 20 3-pointers in the game and if he’s gotten used to how non-abnormal it is for a team to shoot a lot from that range:

“Yeah, I played in Houston. Yeah. Yeah. We shot a lot of threes. With our team, we got shooters, like real shooters. And I say this all the time, it’s nice when you kick it to the guy and you expect him to make it. You expect him to make it. Like, I get mad at some of these guys when they miss it. They miss it and I’m like, ‘Come on man, you don’t miss that in practice.’ And it’s different, too, when you know the work that they put in. So when shootaround is over, practice is over, everybody don’t leave the gym. Everybody’s still in there shooting. So, that’s the trust that you build because you know the guys put in the work.”

On how 3-point shots can save a team when it is struggling elsewhere:

“It can help anybody. It can help anybody. What they always say, it’s a make or miss league, you know, and the fact that our guys had the confidence to continue shooting it, even if it’s not going in. We’re like, ‘ou’re going to make the next one, you’re going to make the next one.’ We got a team full of guys, if a guy pass up a shot, [he’s] probably going to get cussed out because you know what everybody’s capable of.”

Jae Crowder

On Booker entering another gear in the second half:

NBA: Finals-Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

“I mean, I expect that out of him. He’s our go-to player. We know he can make plays for himself and for others. So, we just try to get him in some good situations in good spots and read the game and react and play basketball, and he did a great job with his shot making tonight for sure.”

On what’s registering for him with the Suns two wins away from a championship:

“Zero-zero. Fight. These guys are a tough team. Obviously, we’re going into a tough environment. But your mindset has to be just zero-zero next game. Can’t look too far ahead, don’t look back. Just next-game mentality and that’s what we’re preaching.”

If the Suns defended Bucks starting forward Khris Middleton any differently from Game 1:

NBA: Finals-Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“I just think we just never let him get comfortable. We talked about it, we just wanted to give a lot of different looks to him, not let him see the same coverages over and over. Obviously, these guys do a good job when you play the same way, same style of defense they pick you apart. So, we just tried to give him a lot of different looks and make it as tough as possible on him. Obviously, he’s a hell of a player, he’s one of their go-to players. So, we wanted to make it as difficult as possible. I think Mikal Bridges did a great job on him all night.”

On Bucks starting forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scoring 42 points on 15-of-22 shooting and the Suns still winning:

NBA: Finals-Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m not really into coaching those guys. I’m trying to beat them. So, I don’t really know the correct answer to that. We’re just trying to beat them.”

On Booker and Paul combining to score the most points by a starting backcourt through the first two games of the NBA Finals:

I mean, it sounds crazy but I really expect those guys to play well every night. They put a lot of work into it. They do a good job of running our team, running our offense, making it run smoothly. Obviously, everything runs you through those guys. So, we put the ball in their hand and put them in situations and let them play and react. Coach did a great job of feeling the game and putting those guys in position, and they do a good job of just creating for themselves and for others. So, I expect that and it may be a surprise to others but I expect those guys to lead the way, especially offensively for our team and that’s what we have been doing all year and that’s it’s no different now that we’re in the Finals.”

More on Booker:

“I wouldn’t want to play with a guy who runs from the moment. I think he does a great job of seizing the opportunity. I knew playing against him what type of competitor he was, previously before joining him as a teammate. So no, to answer that question, he’s not going to run from any fight, battle, situation that the basketball court presents. So, he’s a hell of a player, he’s a hell of a competitor and I’m glad to be a part of playing alongside him at this time of the year.”

On what worked for the Suns on the defensive end in the second quarter, when they held the Bucks to 16 points:

“Yeah, I just think we adjusted and tried to keep those guys out of our paint. They’re a great team once the ball is in the paint. We just tried to just guard the ball, guard our yard as best as possible to keep that ball out of our paint and make those guys make tough contested shots. I think that’s our recipe, especially in the second quarter, was to get that lead. We just tried to protect our paint and that was the message.”

On Booker’s work habits:

“I mean, he’s a well-rounded professional. I don’t know how else to put it. He puts the work in on a daily basis. He just doesn’t do it every now and again. It’s an everyday thing. He takes care of his body. He takes care of his mind. He watches film. He talks. He communicates well. So, he does everything you want out of a guy, especially who’s been here, who is comfortable in this city and on this team, and he did a good job of just bringing everyone together. I think his work ethic speaks for itself. He’s putting the work in, so he has a voice in the locker room. I think once you put the work in on a daily basis, obviously the rest of it falls in line from a leadership standpoint and he does that on a daily basis.”

On improving his offensive contributions from Game 1:

“I didn’t look too much into it because we won the game. Obviously if we would have lost that game and I played the way I played, I would have been even more disappointed in myself, but obviously you have those nights but we have a great team, and these guys do a good job of — we always have been the team that talks about picking each other up. And obviously, I had a tough night but my teammates picked me up and we was able to come out with a win. I do feel like it’s big for me to play on both ends of the court and be a factor on both ends of the court, but obviously our team is deep enough. We have enough to get it done even if I have an off-night, even if Book have an off-night, even if Chris has an off-night. We have enough to get it done in our locker room and we totally believe in one another. So, that game was just a glimpse of what we have been preaching all year — we have each other’s back and my teammates had my back that game.”