PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Devin Booker, Chris Paul proud of Deandre Ayton’s postseason leap

Jun 4, 2021, 1:04 AM | Updated: 1:35 am

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)...

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

After guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul, center Deandre Ayton is the third piece in the Phoenix Suns big three.

In his third year in the NBA, the former Arizona Wildcat won the first playoff series of his career after Thursday night’s 113-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6.

And coming into the postseason, the question wasn’t necessarily if Ayton could step up — he’s shown glimpses of having that ability — but rather if the Suns center could sustain that excellence over the course of a playoff series.

Ayton averaged 15.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and shot a ridiculous 79.6% from the field over the course of the six-game series with the Lakers.

“Having a conversation with Deandre and seeing the leap that he made during this series — nobody is harder on DA than I am,” Suns guard Devin Booker said postgame. “It’s been like that for a few years.

“So I know he has a lot of different voices in his ear between me, coach (Monty Williams) and Chris (Paul). I know he’s hearing a lot. I just told him I was so proud of him for seeing the leap and we still have a lot of work to do. We didn’t come into the season to say we want to win one series and be done. We have a lot of work to do.”

Paul noted postgame that Lakers forward LeBron James was able to get downhill and drive to the rim pretty easily at times.

The Suns point guard added that James will play “bully ball” against smaller defenders, but the likes of Ayton in the paint forced him to kick out to his Laker teammates along the perimeter.

“DA was a beast. It’s almost like he was like to hell with the regular season — just let the playoffs get here,” Paul said. “With the team that we have, I wouldn’t rather be here and win with a different group of guys. All these guys deserve it and I’m happy for them.”

With the Suns advancing to the Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets, Ayton will get a chance to go up against MVP candidate Nikola Jokic.

That series begins on Monday night as Game 1 tips off at 7 p.m. at Phoenix Suns Arena.

Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, front, defends against Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (12) during the second quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, Jun 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. Caldwell-Pope was charged with a flagrant foul. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) defends against Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (12) during the second quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, Jun 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. Caldwell-Pope was charged with a flagrant foul. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) scores against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during the third quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots against Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) during the third quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder, right, defends against Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) during the third quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder, back, defends against Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) during the third quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers guard Wesley Matthews (9) holds back forward LeBron James (23) during a timeout in the third quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers forward Markieff Morris (88) during the third quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) defends against Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol (14) during the third quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) is at left. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) 
              Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) defends against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during the first quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, Jun 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
            
              Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) defends against Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) during the second quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, Jun 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
            
              Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) defends against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, Jun 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
            
              Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (17) shoots against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during the second quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, Jun 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
            Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) defends against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) and guard Jevon Carter (4) celebrate after winning 113-100 over the Los Angeles Lakers of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Suns won the series 4-2 and will move on to round 2. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) The Phoenix Suns celebrate after scoring a three-pointer during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) is center. The Suns won the game 113-100, and the series 4-2. They will move on to round 2. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) sit on the bench during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Suns won the game 113-100, and the series 4-2. They will move on to round 2. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) reacts after scoring during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) and forward Cameron Johnson (23) celebrate after winning 113-100 over the Los Angeles Lakers of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Suns won the series 4-2 and will move on to round 2. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, top center, talks to players from the sideline during the third quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. Davis left the game with a groin injury during the first quarter. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) fight for the ball during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) defends against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) dunks the ball during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) dunks the ball during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Phoenix Suns Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol (14) and Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) hug after Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Suns won the game 113-100, and the series 4-2. They will move on to round 2. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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