Phoenix Suns big man DeAndre Ayton made a game-winner on Tuesday night to help his team beat the Los Angeles Clippers 104-103 and take a 2-0 lead. "I'll start off by saying that's definitely Jae [Crowder's] game winner, making a great pass for a 7-footer," Ayton said after his dunk with 0.7 seconds left lifted his final line to 24 points on 12-for-15 shooting and 14 rebounds.
Suns head coach Monty Williams admitted he stole parts of Brett Brown's and former Phoenix coach Joe Prunty's playbooks to cobble the idea together. "I wish I was that bright," he said, "but I'm not."
Chris Paul was out for the second consecutive game but guard Cameron Payne stepped up big time as he finished the game with a game-high 29 points and nine assists. "I'm just trying to hold it on until CP is back," he said.
Suns coach gave credit to Crowder for pass to Ayton
"He put it where only DA could get it," Williams said of Crowder. "It was great awareness by him." Clippers guard Paul George missed two free throws with 8.2 left to play in the game and Suns' Mikal Bridges secured the rebound.
"It's just one of those things that happens where you're just grateful for," Williams said. "The will of our guys to stay with it. I didn't think we played great tonight, but we made enough plays to win the game."
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley was disappointed after his team's Game 2 loss. "This game, I've played a lot of games in this league, this one's hard," said Beverley, who got the start in Game 2. "This one goes up there.
This is a hard game to kind of swallow because you look at this game, I mean, we got this game won, you know. "But we've been in the trenches before. We respond well in the trenches. We'll respond well. We always do."
George failed to help the Clippers extend their lead late in the game. "I'm not going to put too much on that," George said afterward. "Obviously it was an opportunity that was missed. Pat made an unbelievable play that put me in position to extend the lead.
I'm always confident at the free throw line. I've always been very successful in clutch moments at the free throw line." "We don't know who's going to drop 30, we don't know who's going to hit the game winner.
That's how this team is," he said. "We play for each other, and the key thing we do is togetherness. We try not to break that."