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Replay helps Suns G Cam Payne appreciate Torrey Craig’s Game 1 dunk

Torrey Craig #12 of the Phoenix Suns slam dunks the ball over JaMychal Green #0 of the Denver Nuggets after a pass from Cameron Payne #15 during the second half in Game One of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 07, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns point guard Cam Payne had quite the view of teammate Torrey Craig’s alley-up dunk that blew the top off Phoenix Suns Arena on Monday.

But the punctuating mark of the Suns’ Game 1 victory against the Denver Nuggets wasn’t savored in the moment by Payne — even though he was the dude who set Craig up for the highlight slam that went viral for, if not the dunk itself, the fan reaction it created.

“The crazy part about it, I didn’t see or I didn’t feel as much of the crazy reaction until I watched it on the my phone after the game,” Payne said Wednesday before Game 2. “I was like, ‘Ah, man, that play was really crazy.’ But in the midst of the game, sometimes it’s hard to really get a feel for the play.

“It was a great play. I felt like we were already going. I felt like that was icing on the cake to really have us sound — and the fans were in it.”

The lead-in to the dunk itself helped amplify the play. The Suns were rolling, already up 16 points in the fourth quarter against Denver having fought back from a brief double-digit second-half deficit.

A steal on the other end of the court had Phoenix outnumbering the Nuggets on a 3-2 break.

Craig even raised his hand, making it clear to everyone in the arena that a lob was upcoming.

“When I brought it down (the court), I seen his hand go up. That was the green light of throwing it up there, he gonna get it. I’m living with the results,” Payne said. “I’m going to throw it up there where nobody else can get it.”

Craig finished with authority, hanging on the rim as fans went wild in the stands.

The gravity, and the energy of the play, came through on television just as Payne said.

TNT play-by-play man Kevin Harlan, who put on a huge performance himself on Monday, was on point, telling the TV audience to “hold on” as Craig took off.

The camera catching young fans losing their minds immediately afterward allowed the moment to reverberate, too.

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