Suns’ Monty Williams talks Deandre Ayton

Before the start of the regular season, Suns center Deandre Ayton was hoping to get a max extension from the Phoenix Suns. However, the two sides could not agree on a contract.

The former number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft played well this season. Like his previous three seasons in the league, Ayton averaged a double-double with 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds a game, including a career-high 63% shooting.

This season, Ayton had some big moments, including scoring a playoff career-high 28 points against the Pelicans in the first round, but things ended sourly for the four-year veteran.

In Game 7, Ayton, like the rest of his teammates, struggled against the Mavericks. In 17 minutes of action, he had five points and four rebounds. After the 123-90 loss to the Mavs that eliminated Phoenix from the playoffs, Suns head coach Monty Williams was asked why Ayton played only 17 minutes, and his response, “It’s internal.”

On Monday, at his end-of-the-season Zoom call, Williams elaborated a little more on Ayton’s situation. According to Williams, he has not spoken to Ayton individually and explained part of the reason he removed Ayton from the game for good with just over eight minutes left in the fourth.

“You guys know me well enough; I’m going to do everything I can to help us win games,” he said. “And at that point, with the lead where it was, I made a decision not to put him back in the game.”

At season’s end, the 6-11 Ayton will be a restricted free agent, and Williams said the team would figure out Ayton’s contract situation in the next couple of months.

“Deandre’s situation is something that we’ll deal with this summer,” Williams said. “I don’t want to say anything in regards to that.”

Ayton is one of the better centers in basketball, but you do wonder if he’s worth a max contract, especially after what may have transpired in Game 7 between him and Williams, which reportedly was an exchange of words as Ayton returned to the bench. 

However, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there will be teams willing to give Ayton a max deal, so it appears if the Suns don’t pay him, somebody will.

At age 23, Ayton is still improving. He’s improved his shot and has been a walking double-double since entering the league. Based on what happened with the Suns this season and them not winning a title, there might not be a justification to pay Ayton, which means he could be elsewhere next season.

Watch below as Williams discussing Ayton and more.

Mavs’ Doncic on winning Game 7: ‘I can’t get this smile off my face’

“Game 7 typically goes to the best player, and I believe we have that in this series. It’s going to be an exciting clash of styles.”

–Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks went into Phoenix against the Suns, who had the best record in basketball this season, looking to win Game 7 of their Western Conference second-round series Sunday night. Dallas had not won on the road in this series and have not won in Phoenix since 2019, but as Dinwiddie said, Dallas had the best player in the series, and that was the difference.

The best player in this series, Luka Doncic, scored 27 of his game-high 35 points in the first half to go along with 10 rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie added 21 of his 30 points in the first half. Jalen Brunson chipped in with 24 points as the Mavs defeated the Suns 123-90 at Footprint Center to advance to the Western Conference Finals to battle the Golden State Warriors. 

The trio of Doncic, Dinwiddie, and Brunson combined for 89 points.

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals is Wednesday night at Chase Center.

Doncic and the Suns had the same amount of points(27) at the half. Dallas led by 30 at the break(57-27) and had their largest lead of 46 points in the third. Dallas, who was down 2-0 in this series, defeated the Suns by an average of 30 points in Games 6 and 7. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Mavericks’ 33-point win over the Suns was the second-largest win in a series-clinching game versus the best team in the NBA in league history.

Dinwiddie was right about Doncic being the best player in this series as he scored more points than Devin Booker, grabbed more rebounds than Deandre Ayton, dished out more assists than Chris Paul, and had more steals than Mikal Bridges.

Doncic could not stop smiling after beating the Suns in Game 7.

“I can’t get this smile off my face,” he said. “I’m just really happy. Honestly, I think we deserved this.”

Dallas played one of its better games of the season, while the Suns played their worst. Booker(11) and Paul(10) combined for only 21 points, including three points at halftime. In addition, Phoenix shot only 24% in the first half, including 21% from deep. 

Phoenix couldn’t make shots; they couldn’t stop the Mavericks, and in the end, they wasted a 64-win season.

“That was good old fashion a** whipping,” Booker said. 

Suns head coach Monty Williams added: “I know they didn’t want to play that way. We basically played the worst game of the season tonight. That group has a lot of character and integrity, and I know how bad they wanted it.”

The Suns will look back at this series and this season and be very disappointed. At 37, Paul, who is only getting older, looked worn down in this series. In addition, they’ll have to figure out what they will do with Deandre Ayton, who can be a restricted free agent and played only 17 minutes Sunday night. The main goal for Phoenix was to return to the Finals and win a championship. Obviously, that’s not happening. 

Regarding the Mavs, they’re playing good defense and getting stellar play from Doncic. They have a legitimate shot at beating the Warriors as they won the season series 3-1. The Mavs will compete, and we’ll see if they can go back to the NBA Finals for the time since 2011.

 

 

 

 

Suns’ Booker: ‘I’ve never been in a Game 7; it’s gonna be fun’

The Dallas Mavericks have forced a Game 7 after defeating the Phoenix Suns 111-86 in Game 6 at American Airlines Center on Thursday night.

Game 7 is Sunday in Phoenix.

Of course, Luka Doncic led the way for the Mavericks with 33 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. Per Stathead, Doncic is only the fifth player in NBA history to record this stat line in a playoff game.

“I don’t care about stats if we win,” Doncic said after the win. “If we win, I am good. Statistics don’t really matter to me, but if we win, it is going to be amazing. We have another game. We won this game on the defensive end, and now we have another game. It is fun. It’s the playoffs, and we are going to give our everything.”

The Mavericks forced 22 turnovers(which led to 29 points), including a season-high 16 steals by Dallas. 

With their backs against the wall, Dallas head coach Jason Kidd felt the team showed some pride and fed off their home crowd.

“I thought the fans were great,” Kidd said. “I thought we played off of the fans. I thought they were involved for 48 minutes tonight. But I thought the guys, too, were attuned to the game plan and came out and executed it to a T. Again, turnovers were something that we talked about – kept those down—made open shots. Everyone was involved; the ball was touching the paint. And then, defensively, we were active. We got deflections, came up with steals. I thought the vibe was high. That group in that locker room, we’ve talked about it, will always bounce back after a bad game. They felt they had a bad game, bounced back. Now we’ve got to figure out how to win on the road.”

The Mavs are 3-0 in Dallas at home against Phoenix in this series and have beaten the Suns by an average of 15 points. However, the Suns are 3-0 in Phoenix versus Dallas in this series; they have won by an average of 19 points.

According to Reggie Bullock, who scored a postseason-career-best 19 points (5-11 3FG) to go with seven rebounds and two steals, Dallas must have the same energy they brought to Game 6 in Game 7.

“Bring the same energy from the jump,” Bullock said about Game 7. “Be ready to punch them in the mouth early. Just keep that going throughout the game. They are a great team, and it is a hostile environment up there. But at the same time, we are just going to come with a lot of energy and just keep playing the way we have been playing all year.”

Obviously, you don’t want to play a Game 7, but Devin Booker, who had 19 points in the loss, is looking forward to it.

“We work all season to have home-court advantage and get the last game in our house, and that’s exciting,” he said. “It’s Game 7. I’ve never been in a Game 7. It’s gonna be fun.”

It’s win or go home for both teams, and based on their regular-season record of 32-9 at home and their dominance at home over the Mavs in this series, Phoenix is the favorite In Game 7. However, with Luka Doncic, anything can happen.

 

 

Game 6 is a must-win for the Suns

The Dallas Mavericks had all the momentum heading into Game 5 against the Suns, as they won Games 3 and 4 in Dallas to tie their Western Conference second-round series at 2.

In Game 5, Dallas got off to a solid start and took a 26-23 lead after one quarter.

However, Dallas was outscored by 33 points the rest of the way, including 33-14 in the third quarter, as the Suns defeated the Mavs 110-80 at Footprint Center to take a 3-2 series lead.

With the win, the Suns can close out the Mavs in Game 6 Thursday night in Dallas.

In that third quarter, Phoenix created 12 turnovers(seven steals), which led to 18 points, shot 54% from the field, and Devin Booker scored 12 of his team-high 28 points. After three quarters, Phoenix led 82-60 and had their largest lead of 30 points in the fourth.

Phoenix did not play well in Dallas, and they have not lost more than two straight games this season, and with all the drama with Chris Paul and his family in Game 4, you knew the Suns would come back strong in Game 5. 

In their first-round series, the Suns were in a similar situation against the Pelicans. After losing Game 4 to the Pelicans, the Suns came back and handled their business in Game 5; Phoenix took care of business in New Orleans against the Pelicans in Game 6, and they must do the same against the Mavericks.

Even though Game 7 would be back in Phoenix, where they were 32-9 in the regular season, the Suns don’t want to be in a position where they have beat a great player like Luka Doncic, who can put up big numbers and steal a game.

Plus, as stated numerous times, to avoid injuries, you don’t want to play extra games, so the Suns have to end this series in Game 6. However, the fourth game is always the hardest to get, so expect Dallas to come out strong.

Mavs’ Doncic in Game 3 win: ‘I knew I had to do better’

In the first two games of their Western Conference second-round series against the Phoenix Suns, the Dallas Mavericks were all about Luka Doncic and no one else. 

Coming into Game 3, Doncic was averaging 40 points per contest in this series, but Dallas needed others to come to the party.

Doncic got his in Game 3 with 26 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists, but Jalen Brunson recorded a game-high 28 points; Reggie Bullock added 15 points, Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in with 14 points, and Maxi Kleber collected 14 points off the bench as the Mavs defeated the Suns 103-94 at American Airlines Center.

With the win, Dallas snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Suns. The Mavericks still trail in the series 2-1, with an opportunity to even the series on Sunday.

“I thought it was a great team win,” Kidd said. “(Jalen Brunson), Spencer [Dinwiddie], Maxi [Kleber], Luka [Dončić], Reggie [Bullock], (Dorian Finney-Smith) – everyone joined the party, they helped out on both ends. And then Luka was great defensively; he participated, too. It puts us in a different position when that happens.”

Doncic had 24 points in the first half in Game 2 but scored only 11 in the second half, and Dallas allowed Phoenix to score 40 points in the fourth on 84% shooting from the field. In Game 3, Doncic felt he needed to be better on both ends of the court. 

“I wouldn’t say motivation, but I knew I had to do better,” Doncic said. “I knew I could do better; I think that I have made a big jump on defense this year, and the second half was more by me, and I knew I had to get back to my team and play better defense.”

Dallas held Phoenix to 45% shooting from the field, marking the first game of the postseason (of nine outings) that Phoenix has been held to less than 50% from the field. In addition, the Mavs forced 17 turnovers, which led to 22 points.

On his 37th birthday, they forced seven Chris Paul turnovers.

“Happy birthday (Chris Paul),” Kidd said. “I think when you look at it, we were active. Our hands were active; we got deflections that led to steals. We came out aggressive. There was carryover from Game 2 in those first three quarters, and we played 48 minutes tonight. It’s a great win, but now this game is over. It’s a quick turnaround here for Sunday.”

Paul felt the turnovers were the difference in the game.

“If I don’t turn the ball over like that, I feel like it’s a different game, so give them a lot of credit,” Paul said.” They came out and did what they were supposed to do. We’ll be back on Sunday.”

Suns head coach Monty Williams did not like how the team’s offense flowed in Game 3.

“I’m sure there was a bit more pressure on the ball or hands in lanes to get the flex and that kind of thing,” he said. “I didn’t feel like we had a rhythm tonight on offense, to be straight with you all. You saw flashes, but we just didn’t have the same kind of offensive connection that we had in Phoenix. Some of that is to be expected when you are playing against a team, and you are up two games, you know they are going to come out and hit you in the mouth. I thought we could have settled down a little bit more on offense, especially when we have the ball jumping around the gym the way we did from a turnover perspective.”

This was a great effort from the Mavs on both ends, especially on defense. Playing big-time defense and getting big efforts from Doncic and others is why Dallas was successful this season. They have to use that same formula to win Game 4 and this series.

Notes:

-All five of the starters for Phoenix scored in double figures. Jae Crowder led the way with 19 points (5-8 3FG), seven rebounds, and five assists.

Doncic on Paul: ‘He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player’

The Dallas Mavericks have not had an answer for the Phoenix Suns in over two years, and they continued to have no answers for Phoenix on Wednesday night.

After leading 89-86 with over 11 minutes left in the fourth, the Suns went on a 33-9 run to take their largest lead at 122-95 with just under four minutes to go to take Game 2 129-109 at Footprint Center.

Phoenix leads the series 2-0 as the scene shifts to Dallas for Game 3 Friday night.

The Mavs, who have not defeated the Suns since 2019, have lost 11 consecutive games to Phoenix.

Phoenix shot 65% from the field, a new Suns postseason franchise record in a single playoff game. The Suns scored 40 points and shot 84% from the floor in the fourth, and Chris Paul had 14 of his 28 points in the final period.

“Like I always say, just playing the game,” Paul said about the fourth quarter. “Book (Devin Booker) started that third quarter, got us going. You know, I read the game. And other guys on the team made big shots whenever they made a run, just to get us going and get us warmed up into the game. Just feeding off of that.”

Booker, who led the Suns with 30 points, added on Paul: “I remember growing up – I don’t want to take it back to when I was five years old again – but me and my dad watched him play, and he was like, ‘do you see how he makes sure everybody is involved, and then he picks his times when he’s going to take over the game?’, and I’ve just always admired the way he does that. He’s just in control at all times. He’s two, three steps ahead of whatever the other team is doing. And just the leadership, that can never go unnoticed when you’re talking about this man. Just the way he holds people accountable, the will to win. The list keeps going on and on; that’s why he has the nickname (Point God) that he does.”

Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 35 points, and just like everybody else, he was impressed with Paul.

“He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player,” Doncic said about Paul. “He’s been in this league a lot of years; he knows what this is about, so he’s very tough. But like I said, we have to do a better job with him.”

Like Game 1, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd says Doncic needs help from others if Dallas wants to compete in this series. 

“He had a great game, but no one else showed,” Kidd said. “We’ve got to get other guys shooting the ball better. We can’t win with just him out there scoring 30 a night. Not at this time of the year, and we’re playing the best team in the league, and so we’ve got to get other guys going.”

The Suns look like the team that won 64 games in the regular season right now, and that team was tough to beat in the regular season, and that team will be tough to beat for the Mavericks. The series is not over, but the Mavs have to find a way to turn things around in Dallas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mavs’ Doncic on loss to Suns: ‘I think our defense lost us the game tonight’

Luka Doncic did his job in the Dallas Mavericks’ Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals Monday night. Doncic had 45 points(one short of playoff career-high), 12 rebounds, and eight assists.

However, that was overshadowed by Deandre Ayton’s(12/20 FG) 25 points and eight rebounds and Devin Booker’s 23 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Suns had six players in double figures, including all five starters. Phoenix would lead from start to finish and defeat the Mavericks 121-114 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Phoenix.

The Suns, who led by as many as 21 points in this one, have defeated the Mavs 10 straight times(regular season and playoffs combined).

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd liked what Doncic did, but according to him, Doncic needed more help.

“He got whatever he wanted,” Kidd said after the loss. “When you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange, and then also he got his teammates some great looks that we normally have made, I thought he played great. We didn’t play him the whole game. Again, in the fourth quarter, those guys started to get a rhythm and played harder, but I thought he played great.”

After three quarters, the Suns scored 96 points. In addition, they finished the game shooting 51% from the field. Doncic felt the team’s defense lost Game 1.

“I think our defense lost us the game tonight,” Doncic said. “I think our start on the defensive end was terrible, and we’ve got to change that. I know we can play way better defense, and I know we will.”

The Suns came out with a lot of energy in this one, and they used their size to punish the Mavs on the glass as they outrebounded Dallas 51-36. Against the Jazz, Dallas was able to take advantage of Rudy Gobert because he could not hurt them on the offensive end. However, Ayton can and did hurt the Mavs, which Booker discussed postgame.

“He’s a beast down there, and he proves it night-in and night-out,” Booker said of Ayton. “That’s what teams try to go to verses us, just have five guards out there and switch it one through five, and that’s his time to punish them.”

The Mavs clearly have had a hard time defeating the Suns as they haven’t beaten Phoenix since 2019. The Suns have the their number, but there’s hope. Dallas lost Game 1 to the Jazz last round and won four of the next five games in that series.

However, Dallas must be better defensively and get a little more from other players not named Luka Doncic. 

Notes:

-Shooting 51% in the win, Phoenix has now shot 50+ FG% in all seven of their playoff games this postseason. The seven consecutive games shooting 50+ FG% is a franchise postseason record.

-Chris Paul totaled 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting tonight, to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. With this third assist tonight, Paul passed Tony Parker for fifth on the NBA’s all-time playoff assists list.

-Maxi Kleber added 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting tonight in 25 minutes off the bench for Dallas. Kleber knocked down a game-high five three- pointers on eight attempts in the game.

 

 

Mavs’ Kidd on Doncic: ‘It looks like he’s been playing this whole series’

In the regular season, Luka Doncic led the Mavs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game, and Monday night at American Airlines Center, he led the Mavs in three of those four categories.

Doncic had game-highs of 33 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists as the Mavericks defeated the Jazz 102-77 in Game 5 to go up 3-2 in their best-of-seven first-round series. 

Teams that win Game 5 of a 2-2 best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 82.2% of the time (180-39)

Dallas led by as many as 20 points in the first half and had their largest lead of the game of 33 points in the third. Doncic, who was in his second game back after straining his calf in the regular-season finale, took over in the third. He scored 19 points, including three made three-pointers.

“He(Doncic) got going there in the third,” Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said after the win. “But Luka, again, for his second game back, it looks like he’s been playing this whole series. His conditioning, his effort on the defensive end, again, as we talked about rebounding the ball, he’s one of the best for us, and he did that for us tonight.”

During Doncic’s big third quarter, the fans were very much into the game, which he discussed post-game.

“It’s amazing,” Doncic said. “It’s one of those feelings that you just can’t describe. The whole arena is cheering for you, for your team. It’s unbelievable. I think the fans were amazing today. They helped us get this win. If it’s not for them, I don’t think we would win the game. They push us up every time we were tired. Our guys were tired, but they push us up, and I just want to thank them.”

Doncic had 30 points and 10 assists in Saturday’s loss to the Jazz, but according to him, he felt a lot better in Monday’s win over Utah.

“Way better than the first game,’ he said. “The first game, I was janky, but I feel better today. I think the first couple games I was tired, but today I was OK. I think the run in the third, I was feeling tired but just getting my air back and hydrated.”

Late in the game, with the Mavs in complete control, Doncic was fouled by Hassan Whiteside. Ultimately, there was some pushing and shoving, and Whiteside and Reggie Bullock would get ejected. According to Doncic, it was no big deal.

“Oh, nothing,” he said. “It’s playoffs; it’s playoffs. There’s always gonna be attention, but it was nothing. I tried to dunk it and wasn’t successful, but it’s the playoffs. These things happen in the playoffs.”

The Mavs are one game away from getting to the second round for the first time since 2011. They were up 3-2 on the Clippers last season and fell short. Maybe, just maybe, they have learned from that experience. 

Game 6 is Thursday night in Utah.

Notes:

-Jalen Brunson recorded 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists tonight. This was Brunson’s fifth consecutive game with 20+ points, making him the 7th player in franchise history with five-or-more consecutive postseason games scoring 20+ points.

-Dorian Finney-Smith added 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 41 minutes tonight.

-Jordan Clarkson led Utah with 20 points off the bench.

Mavs’ Kidd on Brunson: ‘He’s showing that he deserves to be paid’

At the end of the season, Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson will be an unrestricted free agent, and Monday’s performance in Game 2 of the Mavs’ first-round series against the Utah Jazz could have earned him a few extra dollars.

Brunson had a career-high 41 points (6-10 3FG), eight rebounds, five assists, and zero turnovers as the Mavs defeated the Jazz 119-104 at American Airlines Center to tie the series at one.

This was Dallas first home win in the playoffs since 2015.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Utah.

Brunson became the first player in team history with 40 points and 0 turnovers in a playoff game, and he joined Luka Doncic and Rolando Blackman as the only Mavericks to record 40-8-5 in a postseason game.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd believes Brunson has done enough to get paid this summer.

“I don’t know if he needs an agent, but I’ll put my name in the hat,” Kidd said. “It’s not just what he did tonight. It’s not what he’s going to do going forward. He’s already done the work this season. He’s showing that he deserves to be paid. He does his job at a very high level, and he’s a winner. Hopefully, he can pay me for what I just said.”

With Doncic missing his second straight game with a left calf injury, Brunson carried the load and then some.

“I was just playing how the defense was kind of giving me,” Brunson said. “Just seeing how they were defending certain things—just stepping in confidentially into certain shots. I think I started 5-for-5, maybe. Yeah, the 5-for-5 start is great, but I had the same mentality when I was 0-for-5 last game or something like that. The mentality stays the same. You can’t fluctuate whenever he’s in or out. You need guys to make plays. He has a lot on his shoulders. We need guys to get into the paint and make plays to take the extra pressure off of him.”

For now, Brunson and Maxi Kleber, who scored 25 points, including a career-high eight threes, saved the Mavs’ season. 

This series would have probably been over if Dallas had gone down 0-2 heading to Utah for Games 3 and 4.

For now, Dallas celebrates the win and continues to hope they can get Doncic back at some point in this series.

Mavs’ Dinwiddie believes fans should be encouraged how team played in Game 1 against Utah

With Luka Doncic out with a strained left calf, the Mavericks would need others to step up in his absence in Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round series against the Utah Jazz.

Spencer Dinwiddie would get the start in place of Doncic, and he had post-season career highs with 24 points, four rebounds, and eight assists, and Jalen Brunson also had playoff career highs with 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. However, Donovan Mitchell scored 30 of his 32 points in the second half, and the Jazz defeated the Mavericks 99-93 at American Airlines Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Despite the loss, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was happy with what he got from Dinwiddie, Brunson, and the team’s defense.

“They were great this afternoon,” Kidd said after the game of his starting backcourt. “Offensively, they found guys [and] got shots, but our defense gave us the chance to win this game. A lot of good, not just from those two, but from the team.”

Kidd believes the way Dallas played against the Jazz without Doncic shows that the Mavs have a good team.

“I thought overall, we slowed the game down and gave ourselves a chance to win without Luka [Dončić], and that really just shows the sign of a good team,” Kidd said.

Dinwiddie added: “Personally, we lost by six; I missed six free throws right, so we are right there. If anything, this should be encouraging for the fan base, in my opinion. We are disappointed in the locker room. This isn’t a game that we felt like- obviously, give them credit-they went out there and won the game.”

Dallas defended well as they held the Jazz below 100 points and created 15 turnovers. Utah was in the top 10 in points per game(113.6 PPG) in the regular season, so holding them to 99 points is a win for the Mavs.

However, Dallas has to get more from their offense, and that could be difficult without Doncic, who, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, may miss Game 2 on Monday, so guys will have to step up. Going down 2-0 would be devastating.

We’ll see how the Mavs respond in Game 2.

Notes:

Reggie Bullock tied a playoff career-best with 15 points and set a new playoff career-best with 6 rebounds.

Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points (4-7 FG) and 5 rebounds for the Mavericks.

Bojan Bogdanović had 26 points (11-20 FG), 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Today was his fourth career postseason game scoring 25+ points.