The former Wildcat had 10 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks on 4-of-10 shooting in the 118-108 victory. It was not one of Ayton’s best games, but it was his fifth straight double-double and 13th this postseason.
Deandre Ayton now has a double-double in 13 playoff games this season. At age 22, he is the youngest player in NBA history to accomplish this feat.— Greg Harvey (@BetweenTheNums) July 9, 2021
The Suns have now gone up 2-0 in three consecutive series and are a combined 14-4 in the playoffs so far. pic.twitter.com/AOMuzmgFmx
Much of Ayton’s production came in the fourth quarter after a timely pep talk by head coach Monty Williams. The moment was caught by ABC cameras.
“This is the deal,” Williams told a visibly distraught Ayton. “One, you’re getting back in transition, if you don’t have Giannis (Antetokounmpo), find a man and be a guard. Two—look at me—you set a high level for yourself. That’s why you’re down. That’s great. Now go reach that level, OK? And you can reach it with force. It doesn’t have to be stats all the time. Go dominate the game with force, OK? Because you set a high level for yourself. Go dominate the game with force. Let’s go.”
Ayton said after the game that Williams’ words of encouragement “got me going.”
“I didn’t play the way I wanted to play, especially trying to finish around the rim. I didn’t rebound the way I wanted to rebound, and it kind of got to me a little bit,” Ayton said. ”But I kept playing through it and kept chipping down and finding what I can do best for my team. Monty had seen it on me. I had my emotions on my shoulders a little bit.”
The NBA Finals will shift to Milwaukee on Sunday with Game 3 set for 5 p.m. PT on ABC.