Is there trouble brewing in Arizona? The Phoenix Suns fought back in Game 3, taking one away from the Denver Nuggets to prevent them from going up 3-0. However, an interesting development happened during the game. DeAndre Ayton was noticeably absent from the closing lineup in Game 3. Instead, Monty Williams went with Jock Landale, eventually leading to a win.
That seemingly ticked off Ayton. Astute fans watching the game noticed the Suns center’s body language significantly change after being benched. As if we needed more proof, Ayton brushed off teammate Chris Paul’s high-five attempts… twice. He’s not happy about the decision, and he’s making that painfully clear with his actions.
Deandre Ayton left Chris Paul hanging twice after getting pulled for Jock Landale in the 4th quarter of Game 3.
He also exited the arena quickly before media were allowed in, per @espn_mcmahon
( via @eliavgabay)pic.twitter.com/VHbpKNLYgX
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 6, 2023
As noted in the tweet above, Ayton also left immediately after the Suns’ win, avoiding media availability in the process. It’s worth pointing out that Dillon Brooks recently got in trouble for doing the same thing, although it was a repeat offense. That decision by Ayton seems to further indicate his displeasure.
From a purely basketball standpoint, Monty Williams’ decision makes perfect sense. Ayton was getting worked by Nikola Jokic all game long. The Nuggets star cooked Ayton to the tune of a 30-17-17 triple-double. Jock Landale, on the other hand, showed more energy on the court. Ayton’s atrocious shooting (2-9 from the field, and a baffling inability to finish “easy” shots at the rim) was the nail that sealed his coffin.
The optics certainly don’t look good for DeAndre Ayton right now. Getting angry for being benched in a game your team won is a bad, bad look for a player (especially a first overall pick like the Suns star). What’s important, though, is for Ayton to use this as motivation instead of continuing to “pout”. Instead of getting angry at being benched, he needs to know why he was benched, and proceed to fix those issues he had.
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