Suns’ Williams on Game 7 loss, Deandre Ayton spat: ‘We had a bad day’

Jul 19, 2022, 9:25 AM
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns stands with head coach Monty Williams during the second half ...
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns stands with head coach Monty Williams during the second half the NBA game against the Sacramento Kings at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 07, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Kings defeated the Suns 114-103. The Kings defeated the Suns 114-103. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns’ promising season came crashing down in the form of a Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

On top of the disappointment felt around the state, there was an added layer to the loss between Suns head coach Monty Williams and starting center Deandre Ayton.

Following the center’s substitution just three minutes into the third quarter of Game 7, Williams and Ayton exchanged words on the bench.

When the series-deciding bout was settled, Ayton registered just 17 minutes of playing time. After the game, Williams said the matter was “internal.”

Now months removed from the disappointing playoff exit, Williams has had time to reflect on the way things transpired.

“I didn’t feel like I had to say anything. I was just doing my job,” Williams told Marc J. Spears in an article published by ESPN on Monday. “We had a bad day, but we had an unbelievable season. Unfortunately, in sports and even in society, we focus on the one bad thing. It hurt like crazy, and it still hurts. It was embarrassing to play that way, but as the dust settles and I look at the season from a holistic perspective, I look at all the good stuff that happened.

“This team is a new standard in Suns basketball and it’s part of a process. The one thing I understand is when I first got there, the team wasn’t winning many games and so nobody was talking about anything that was going on. And there was stuff going on because it’s a team and you’re dealing with people. Now that you’re winning and having some success, things are talked about, and that’s a good thing in my opinion. You may not like what everybody talking about, but nonetheless, we’re a team that has expectations and so it just goes with the territory.”

In the 17:27 Ayton was on the court in Game 7, the center recorded five points on 40% shooting to go along with four rebounds and two assists.

Despite the optics of his final playoff performance of the season, Ayton still turned in a respectable postseason (13 games) behind 17.9 points and 8.9 rebounds over 30.5 minutes per contest.

For Ayton, who did not speak with the media after Game 7, it’s about putting the way things ended in the rearview mirror as he prepares for Year 5 with the Suns.

“Game 7 was an anomaly. We let that get away from us as a team. That is all in the past. We’re going to look forward. We are going to move on,” Ayton told Spears.

The duo’s comments come on the heels of Ayton signing a four-year, $133 million maximum contract extension with the Suns on Monday.

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