Last night, the Phoenix Suns’ season was saved by some big performances from their stars.
With Chris Paul out and the Suns facing the possibility of falling behind 3-0 in their series against the Nuggets, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant stepped up in a big way.
Booker dropped a ridiculous 47 points on 80% shooting while also dishing out 9 assists while Durant chipped in with 39 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds as they led the team to a 121-114 win to get thumbtack into the series.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t such a great night for one of the team’s other key pieces.
Deandre Ayton scored only 4 points on 6 field goal attempts last night and only saw the floor for 26 minutes.
Late in the game, head coach Monty Williams even decided to turn to Jock Landale to close things out instead of Ayton.
It was a move Ayton clearly disagreed with. He could be seen ignoring Chris Paul twice during a timeout while seemingly voicing his opinion on the situation.
Deandre Ayton left Chris Paul hanging twice after getting pulled for Jock Landale in the 4th quarter of Game 3.
He also exited the arena quickly before media were allowed in, per @espn_mcmahon 👀
(🎥 via @eliavgabay)pic.twitter.com/VHbpKNLYgX
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 6, 2023
Ayton also chose to leave the arena before the media was allowed in the locker room to speak to players.
Deandre Ayton exited the arena before the Suns’ locker room opened to media. Monty Williams had high praise for Jock Landale’s effort. https://t.co/ZILIkcuNMD
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) May 6, 2023
Issues between Deandre Ayton and Monty Williams are nothing new. Last season, Ayton was benched as the team was shockingly eliminated in Game 7 by the Dallas Mavericks.
The Suns’ center then spent the summer going through an uncomfortable contract situation where it appeared that the Suns didn’t decide they actually wanted to bring him back until it was no longer an option to sign-and-trade him.
Back in September, Ayton said that he hadn’t spoken to Williams since his playoff benching.
There was also a heated exchange between the two in a huddle during a regular season game earlier this season.
Now Ayton has once again been benched in a big moment.
If the Phoenix Suns are going to take down the top-seeded Nuggets, they are going to need all of their stars to step up.
The last thing they need is another issue between their head coach and starting center.