Torrey Craig: Crowd noise at Phoenix Suns Arena ‘was another level’

Jun 8, 2021, 9:49 PM | Updated: 11:01 pm

If you forgot how loud Phoenix Suns Arena can get, forward Torrey Craig gave us a reminder in the 122-105 Game 1 win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

With just under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter and Phoenix up 100-84, Craig threw down an alley-oop pass from point guard Cam Payne to reach the crescendo and cap-off a 42-14 Suns run.

“No, not quite like that, man. That was another level,” Craig told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Wednesday when asked if he’s ever heard a crowd that loud before.

“I’m just happy we could put on a show for the fans because it goes hand-and-hand — we need them and we try to put on a show on for them and get a win. I’m just glad everybody could be there to witness it.”

The forward finished the night with nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes played.

Craig added that the biggest factor in the Suns’ ability to come back and win so emphatically was Phoenix’s ability to play defense and get stops.

“Us just getting stops, man. It’s amazing what you can do in this league when you play defense and get stops. It leads to so many opportunities,” he said. “You saw it a lot last night. Once our defense kicked it and got stops, we started rolling, man.

“And once you get one stop and score and another stop and score, it’s keep building and building and the crowd gets louder and louder. The next thing you know, you have a double-digit lead and all the momentum and everything and the crowd is on your side. It all starts with defense.”

Coming into Monday night’s contest, the Suns were the only remaining playoff team to have their opponents averaging less than 100 points per game.

And after a six-game series in the first round with the Los Angeles Lakers — who deployed bigs such as Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and Marc Gasol — the Suns were ready for a physical battle on the boards with Denver, who boast this season’s regular-season MVP in Nikola Jokic.

“We knew coming in that Denver was a great offensive rebounding team,” Craig said. “But we felt like we had already been put to the test with the Lakers’ size and their offensive rebounding capabilities. So we were kind of already warmed up for that and (Monday) night I think we did a good job of defensive rebounding.”

The Suns won the total rebounding battle 44-11, but were edged by the Nuggets on the offensive glass 11-7.

Craig was with Denver from 2017-20, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in last year’s postseason held in the bubble in Orlando.

Monty Williams and Co. have relied on Craig’s familiarity with the Nuggets as somewhat of a scouting report, as the Suns look to get every advantage they can in their first playoff appearance in over a decade.

“You’re competing against guys that you used to compete with,” Craig said. “Obviously making a deep playoff run last year with the guys and now being on a new team going up against them is exciting because you know how talented those guys are over there. …

“Just playing with those guys for years and being in the playoffs with those guys — just trying to share my knowledge of what tendencies they have, things that they do well, things that they don’t do so well, individual players. Just trying to fill them in the best that I can because we need it. In the playoffs, you need any help you can get so that’s what I’m trying to provide.”

Craig came over from the Milwaukee Bucks for cash considerations earlier this season and will be a free agent come the end of the 2020-21 NBA postseason.

The forward added that Phoenix was a preferred destination in free agency even before signing with the Bucks last offseason.

So would Craig be willing to come back to the Valley on a one-year deal next year?

“That’s something that I’d have to discuss with my agent and my team, but I definitely wouldn’t mind it,” he said.

“I think the coaches here fit me perfectly. The personalities in the locker room fit perfectly. So it would make the most sense, but it’s a little too early to tell right now.”

The Suns host the Nuggets in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday night in Phoenix.

Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. Catch all the action live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Dwight Powell #7 of the Dallas Mavericks jump for the ope...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns get rematch vs. Mavericks on opening night, per report

The Phoenix Suns' regular season will begin at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 19, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
23 hours ago
The Phoenix Suns mascot "The Gorilla" on the court before NBA game against the Golden State Warrior...
Arizona Sports

Report: Phoenix Suns to play Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day

The Phoenix Suns will head to Denver to face the Nuggets on Christmas Day this upcoming season, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reported. 
2 days ago
Bill Russell, left, star of the Boston Celtics is congratulated by coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach afte...
Kevin Zimmerman

NBA retires No. 6 jerseys, to add jersey patch honoring late Bill Russell

Bill Russell's No. 6 jersey is the first to be retired across the NBA. Players will wear the patch on the shoulders this year.
5 days ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the first half of Game One of the Western Confere...
Kevin Zimmerman

ESPN’s NBA staff still mighty high on 2022-23 Phoenix Suns

If you were wondering why the Suns have attacked the offseason with tinkering, it might be time to remember the past two full seasons.
6 days ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles safety Marc...
Arizona Sports

Larry Fitzgerald, Pedro Gomez in 2022 Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class

Arizona Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald and late journalist Pedro Gomez are among the 2022 class entering the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
6 days ago
Kevin Durant attends "NYC Point Gods" premiere at Midnight Theatre on July 26, 2022 in New York Cit...
Dan Bickley

Kevin Durant’s exit could get messy for Nets, maybe Suns, too

By my calculations, there is only one way Durant lands in Phoenix. There must be a second act of petulance even worse than the first.
7 days ago
Torrey Craig: Crowd noise at Phoenix Suns Arena ‘was another level’