Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams wasn't happy at all with the way his team started Game 5 versus the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers, who were facing an elimination, won Game 5 116-102 to reduce the deficit to 3-2 in their Western Conference Finals series.
"It's just unacceptable the way we started the game," Suns coach Williams said. "It was a big hole for us. It's pretty obvious that we can't play with a show-up mentality. We showed up in the first quarter, and they played with desperation -- simple and plain."
Suns star guard Chris Paul underlined that his team has got to close quarters better. "We've got to close quarters better," Paul said. "Like that's been a problem for us all series long. Closing quarters, that last 2½, three minutes of quarters.
We took the lead and then maybe cut it to one or two, and then they get a bucket and go on a run." Devin Booker shared the same thoughts as Williams and Paul "It's on all of us," Booker said. "They came out, they punched us in the face to start the game.
And I think we showed it at spots tonight and certain times, but they're not going to go away easily, so we have to be locked in from beginning to end." Cameron Johnson, who shot 5-of-6, finished the game with 14 points off the bench.
After the match, Johnson was asked how Phoenix was processing the missed opportunity. "Well, it's the realization that it's not going to be easy," he replied. "That's what the playoffs is about, and it's tough and that's what everybody said it would be and you can't expect a team to just roll over.
They brought it today, and they gave us a tough time. So, we just have to bring it next game." The Clippers outscored the Suns 58-32 in the pain. "That's not something you would have expected, especially with them not having Zubac tonight," Williams said.
"So, we will be better in the next game. "Paramount on my mind right now is we got to play with way more force and competitive edge, and we've got to guard the ball." Clippers star guard Paul George scored a play-off career-high 41 points on 15-of-20 shooting.
"He got it going," Paul said. "He was getting to his spots, making shots. ... We got to make it tougher on him."