PHOENIX — Here is what Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said after the team’s practice Monday afternoon at the Verizon 5G Performance Center.
Williams reviewed the Suns’ Game 1 loss Sunday and spoke about how the team can clean up its rebounding and rotations and create more opportunities for forward Kevin Durant.
On adjustments the Suns need to make for Game 2:
“(Laughs). Think I’m going to share them?”
“I think there’s always things that you can do better. You’re making in-game adjustments on the fly, but the thing that stuck out — we know we didn’t play the kind of basketball that we are accustomed to. They had a lot to do with it, but the rebounding piece was something that, they know it, we know it. We have to do a better job. Fourteen offensive rebounds (for the Clippers), that was hard to swallow. In the fourth quarter, those last few possessions, I think we were on defense for 51 seconds (they were) because they kept getting extra possessions. So we got to keep those guys off the glass.”
On what led to Durant only taking one shot in the final six minutes of the game:
“It’s needing to get him the ball in certain spots. Them doing a good job of denying him the ball, but we can create some more environments for him to live freely, live-ball situations. And then sometimes, you can give him the ball so he can bring it up the floor and create opportunities.”
On the Suns’ 19 3-point attempts in the game:
“I thought we played real slow. Our start was slow, the ball movement wasn’t where it needs to be. They had some weird lineups out there and weird matchups. So we just didn’t identify it fast enough on the fly. And that’s on me, to get them in some spots to take advantage of it. But a lot of it starts with getting a defensive stop, and we get a lot of our threes there in transition or we live at the rim or we shoot threes. Nineteen threes in a game like that, that’s way too low.”
On where he is looking to see the Suns’ pace improve:
“When they’re switching or when they have (Los Angeles center Ivica) Zubac on (Suns forward) Torrey (Craig) or that kind of thing, it shouldn’t slow us down. I liken it to a zone, and that’s what they want. They want you to slow down. And that’s not what we do. That’s one adjustment that we all know that we have to make.”
On the Suns’ mid-range shot attempts when they faced the Clippers’ drop coverage:
“They weren’t terrible, we just typically make them. When you think about the game last night, it was really a 3-point (inaudible)…open shots that we missed, mid-range that we typically make more of, and then the rebounding. Combine those two and I’m probably having a different press conference right now. So give them credit, they did some things to force us into those shots. And when we have those shots, we got to make them.
“The mid-range shot is not critical (inaudible), but we’ve always felt like if we make those shots, we can set our defense up.”
On playing 10 players in the first half:
“Yeah, searching, foul trouble, all of those things. But for the most part, just looking for a lineup and a combination that was going to give us a bit more juice. We didn’t start the game with our type of juice… so you look at the guys that’ll go out there and give you a little bit of juice while you spell the starters and they get back in the game.”
On how to get more ‘juice’ from his team:
“You got to bring it. It starts actually right now… we’ll be better tomorrow.”
If the Suns’ perfect record with Durant before Sunday’s game and if that played into their slow start:
“No, I thought there was some hesitation. I wouldn’t call it panic or any of that. I just thought we were hesitant. And Zubac on Torrey, instead of just going at him with (Suns center) [Deandre Ayton] in pick-and-rolls and taking advantage — we did it one time, and DA got a dunk. I thought we were a bit hesitant.
“I think tomorrow, we’ll have more urgency to get down the floor. But we got to get the ball first. We can’t give up that many offensive rebounds…”
On Durant finding more opportunities to score:
“I think he has the license to play in attack-mode all the time. He takes the right shots, he can get his shot off all the time. Are there a few times where he could have taken a shot and not passed it? Yeah. But I don’t want to get in his head. I think he’s always trying to make the right plays, but he knows the right play is him shooting the ball. And everybody else knows it.”
If the Suns are comfortable with Durant and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard guarding each other:
“We are. A couple times, Kevin got fouls on him. One time, he pushed and then the other time, he reached late. When he just plays and makes Kawhi shoot over top of him, contested hand on the mid-range, we’ll live with that. But both of those guys started away from each other. As the game progressed, they just were on each other. I think we’re going to see more of that as the series progresses.”
If he wants Durant to take the challenge of guarding Leonard:
“He (Durant) wants it. I think both teams are trying to do the same thing. You want to save energy, but you also don’t want to get in the way of greatness. He knows him coming in, ‘Coach, I got it.’”
On what contributed to the Suns’ rebounding issues:
“We just didn’t attack bodies. We talk about paint touches with the ball, they had paint touches with a body. We were waiting on guys to get to the paint, and they were pushing us underneath. We got to go find bodies when the shot goes up.”
On inserting center Jock Landale in the third quarter for center Bismack Biyombo:
“Well, it was looking for a little bit of offense in the pocket. And looking back on it, it’s going something that I’m going to think about hard tonight, whether to do that again. Because [Biyombo] gives you the rebounding and he gives you physicality and [Biyombo] can guard the ball. And so that’s something that I’m going to think about tonight.”
His thoughts on a verbal altercation between a Suns fan and Clippers guard Russell Westbrook in Game 1:
“I don’t have any. That’s a distraction. We’re focused on the game. I think any time those things happen, it’s the last thing on my mind. I’m thinking about the game, the adjustments we can make, our energy, rebounding. That’s what my focus is.”