Deandre Ayton once again was a dominant force with 19 points, 22 rebounds, four blocks, and three assists in 41 minutes. The former Arizona Wildcat was 8 for 14 from the field. His 22 rebounds were the most he has ever had in an NBA game—regular season or postseason.
“I’m going to be honest, I got outplayed last game,” Ayton told reporters afterwards. “(Ivica) Zubac did a great job of controlling the glass and being a presence down low at both ends of the floor. And it was up to me to get in front of that or compete with that or challenge that. Just trying my best, that’s about it. Just really trying my best to just be relentless on the glass and really tried to control both ends of the floor with my presence, talking, just my effort, second effort.”
In four games against the Clippers, Ayton is averaging 20.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 69 percent shooting. Chris Paul missed the first two games of the series due to COVID protocols and Devin Booker is only shooting 36 percent in the series, so Ayton has been the Suns’ most valuable player.
“Honestly, the world having me as a question mark in the playoffs,” Ayton said when asked what’s motivating him. “That got to me a little bit. And I’m going to change that. That’s about it. Just a question mark on me. And I just wanted to change that and prove everyone wrong.”
The Suns can clinch their third-ever trip to the NBA Finals on Monday when they host Game 5 at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN.