Deandre Ayton spends end of Game 3 win for Suns on bench

May 5, 2023, 10:10 PM | Updated: May 6, 2023, 12:40 am

PHOENIX — Deandre Ayton earned a hook from Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams with five minutes left in a close Game 3 with the Denver Nuggets leading their second-round series 2-0 on Friday.

The Suns held on to win 121-114, bringing the Nuggets’ series lead to 2-1.

Williams turned to backup center Jock Landale after Ayton missed a layup with a relatively clear path to the basket with Phoenix leading 103-94 in the fourth quarter with about six minutes remaining. On the next play, Ayton rebounded a miss, but Denver’s Bruce Brown popped the ball out of his hands from behind leading to a Nikola Jokic 5-footer to make it 103-96.

Williams called Landale to the scorer’s table after that sequence. A few possessions later, the Suns called timeout and Ayton was still pulled after the reset.

Guards Damion Lee and Cam Payne appeared to speak with Ayton to get his head right, and while the center showed frustration about being benched, he re-engaged the next time Phoenix huddled for a break.

Ayton played 26 minutes and scored four points to go with nine rebounds.

Landale ended at 22 minutes with six points and nine rebounds with, by the eye test featured significantly more success running against Nuggets star Nikola Jokic.

Jokic had 28 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists — the first player in NBA history to have a 25-15-15 game in the playoffs.

It wasn’t the only surprising bench performance from Phoenix.

T.J. Warren made his first appearance of the series and scored seven points, including five late fourth-quarter points. He had a team-best plus-minus of +18.

Devin Booker added 47 points to go with nine assists, and Kevin Durant added 39 points and eight dimes.

Phoenix Suns

Mat Ishbia...

Dan Bickley

Monty Williams’ windfall raises stakes for Phoenix Suns, Mat Ishbia

NBA ownership isn’t always fun and games. In Phoenix, the plot has thickened quicker than Monty Williams’ wallet.

1 day ago

Eric Lewis, referee...

Associated Press

Referee Eric Lewis not officiating NBA Finals amid Twitter burner account investigation

Eric Lewis was not selected to referee the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat amid an investigation.

1 day ago

Former Suns head coach Monty Williams...

Arizona Sports

Report: Pistons agree to deal with former Suns HC Monty Williams

Former Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has agreed to a six-year deal worth $72 million to coach the Detroit Pistons.

2 days ago

Fans of the Phoenix Suns poses for photos outside of Footprint Center before Game Three of the NBA ...

Arizona Sports

Phoenix City Council vote passes to support Suns’ All-Star bids

The Phoenix City Council had a 9-0 vote on Wednesday in favor of supporting the bids from the Suns and Mercury to host All-Star games.

2 days ago

Bob Myers, Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors GM...

Associated Press

Dynasty architect Bob Myers departs Golden State Warriors

Bob Myers is departing as president and GM of the Golden State Warriors after building a team that captured four titles in eight years.

3 days ago

Doc Rivers, Suns head coaching candidates...

Arizona Sports

Phoenix Suns’ list of head-coaching candidates down to 3

The Phoenix Suns have narrowed their head-coaching search to Doc Rivers, Frank Vogel and Kevin Young, reports Arizona Sports' John Gambadoro.

3 days ago

Deandre Ayton spends end of Game 3 win for Suns on bench