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Deandre Ayton 'Turning Into Really Dominant Player' After Game 2, Suns HC Says

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2021

CORRECTS TO SECOND HALF INSTEAD OF FIRST HALF - Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, right, scores over Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals, Tuesday, June 22, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York/Associated Press

Deandre Ayton was the hero Tuesday, but his head coach knows it wasn't just one fluke moment for the big man.

"He's turning into a really dominant player," Monty Williams told reporters after the Phoenix Suns' dramatic 104-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Tuesday's Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

Ayton gave the Suns the win by slamming down a Jae Crowder lob in the final second after the ball was knocked out of bounds by the Clippers, as both teams went for the rebound following Mikal Bridges' missed three-pointer.

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DEANDRE AYTON GAME-WINNING OOP 🚨 SUNS UP 2-0 https://t.co/QJGhUUhxAF

It was the culmination of an incredible game for Ayton.

He overpowered Ivica Zubac down low a number of times, converted a handful of alley-oops throughout the game, controlled the glass and even stretched his offensive arsenal out beyond the paint with a nice touch on a jump shot.

The result was 24 points and 14 rebounds on 12-of-15 shooting.

Ayton and Cameron Payne (29 points and nine assists) helped make up for Devin Booker's struggles, as the go-to option was just 5-of-16 from the field with seven turnovers. It appeared as if he may have lost the game for Phoenix when Patrick Beverley stripped him in crunch time, but Paul George's two missed free throws set up the stunning finish.

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Perhaps Ayton will never quite fully play his way past the fact that he was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft ahead of the likes Luka Doncic and Trae Young in some fans' eyes, but he is now two wins away from helping lead his team to the NBA Finals during a breakthrough postseason.

If he continues to play like he has and the Suns win the title, Tuesday's play will be one of the most memorable in NBA history. 

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