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June 26, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Game 4: Postgame

Phoenix Suns - 84, Los Angeles Clippers - 80

Q. You've always said your team's motto is to be relentless. How proud are you of the way they were able to hold on in that fourth quarter, and what's it like to be one win away from playing for a NBA title?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well, it's something we have tried to rely on all season long is just having an attitude of not giving in and being relentless in a number of areas, but our poise was tested tonight and I thought we fared well responding to their third quarter when we couldn't score and ball was going in and out, we were able to get enough stops.

And I thought it was a great response to the talk we had yesterday about competing. We competed at the highest level that I've seen from us all season long, especially on the defensive end. We just have to have a great deal of balance with our emotions and handle this the right way, not get too far ahead. Yes, we are one win away from where we want to go, but we got to look at the film, prepare even better and step by step pound the rock over the next couple of days so that we can be better when we play this team again because we know we're going to see a desperate team.

Q. You said that it's hard to win in this league. Was that the epitome of that tonight?

MONTY WILLIAMS: No doubt. Playing a team like that in front of a crowd like that and constantly seeing your shots go in and out, in and out, in and out, that was a testament to the character and integrity and toughness of our guys. Every timeout it was all about defense. Nobody was talking about anything from the offensive side, nor should we, because we couldn't score (laughing). We just couldn't put it in the hole.

I thought Deandre's presence, his effort, the rebounding, shot blocking, his communication on defense, switching out on smaller guys and being able to guard them, he was the catalyst tonight on the defensive end. I thought it was an unreal performance from him. Our guys rallied around him.

And then the execution down the stretch to be able to foul when we needed to and box out and get the free throws necessary to win the game, it's all the stuff you work on all season long. A lot of it paid off tonight, especially when you couldn't score the ball. That was a slugfest. That's what playoff basketball is all about.

So I'm just proud of our team, but also in the mode of getting our minds right and preparing for a tough game, because we know that's what it's going to be.

Q. When did you decide to foul? At what point did you think about doing that?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Well, I think the analytics, there's different pieces of data that we have read, some people say seven, some say 11. I think when have you Chris and Book who can knock down free throws and Jae as an inbounder, when you can execute and get the ball inbounds, we decided to do it a lot further out from a time perspective. So I think we started at about 17, if I'm not mistaken, and that we just trust Chris and Devin in those moments. And in that moment it was Chris pretty much going to get the ball and understanding that he can't give them a jump ball and you have to go to the ball, and then Jae being able to put the ball on the button. We just decided to trust Chris with the ball to shoot free throws and then we just fouled. We didn't want to give them a chance to get a three off.

Q. You went up by as many as 16. They cut it to one but they never got over the hump. How important was that when it was 71-70 that both teams combined to miss 14 or 15 shots?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was unreal, right? It wasn't Offense 101 for sure. But the poise we have been talking about it all season long, understanding that they were going to make that kind of run, we didn't think we were going to miss that many shots, but one of our pillars is defense. I think everybody NBA team has a pillar that revolves around defense and tonight it was on display.

They missed some shots, but I feel like the pressure over the course of the game, when you compete like that everybody's tired. So it wasn't a surprise to me to see that many shots missed, but again I thought DA's ability to anchor the middle and then his ability to switch out on to guys and guard. There was a skirmish under the basket where the ball was bouncing all over the place, and it was DA right in the middle and I think somebody tried to shoot the ball under the basket and he just swatted it. I thought his fingerprints were all over that side of the ball tonight. And we had a BOB and we ran a pick, pick for him and Chris throws the ball where nobody else can go get it. DA goes and dunks the ball, like he was all over the place tonight, that's the kind of player that he can be. He basically won that game for us tonight. He was tremendous.

Q. In the fourth quarter when the offensive shots kept going in and out before that things kind of spiraled a little bit. You talked about poise, is that kind of like a game that's going to come to mind for you now when you think of poise and the way guys stepped up defending?

MONTY WILLIAMS: No doubt. We have been in these situations, but certainly not on this stage where you have a decent lead and all you're thinking is let's just maintain it or increase it. They came out in the third quarter and scored 30 points and we had 19. So at that point you just are relying on your defense, relying on execution, but you're also relying on a mental stamina that we have been talking about for two years.

We saw it on display tonight and every time Chris and I made eye contact he was like -- both of us were like, we're good, we're good, that kind of thing. Him more than me in those situations, but I just, we have been talking about it and it was just really cool to see our guys put that type of mental stamina on display on the road in a cool environment, even though it was against you, our guys just stayed the course.

Q. You went with Abdel [Nader] for a couple of minutes. How did you like what you saw from him?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I just think we need what he brings to the table. It's a tough spot for him to be in. I thought that drive he had on Kennard from the corner, like that's who he is. That's a tough first game to come back in. But I just, I like the fact that he can guard, he can rebound, he's a big body, he moves his feet, and we think he's going to be able to help us going forward.

Q. You touched on it but we talk so much about Chris's value in crunch time and usually you think of like making a game-winning shot or a game-winning pass but just to sink those free throws, to have poise, all that, it kind of feels like this just captures why you guys wanted him and can you explain what he meant to your group?

MONTY WILLIAMS: My job's not easy by any stretch but when have you Chris in those moments, there's a level of trust that we both have. I know he wants the ball, I know he'll go get it and not many guys are willing to go up to that line with confidence and knock those free throws down. When he missed the one, I know he wanted to -- he was pretty tough on himself, but at that point I was pretty confident in what we were doing as far as fouling and not allowing them to get off a three.

But there's a great deal of trust in those moments and Book wasn't out there with him. Usually we have both of those guys and Jae as an inbounder, and Mikal is in the middle, so you have him as a safety. But Chris wants the ball in those situations.

Q. Along those same lines, the trust and the eye contact and the knowledge, the connection that you have with a guy who by his own admission, "I couldn't make a damn shot." How did you know that Chris would take care of this when everything was going horribly wrong on the offensive end?

MONTY WILLIAMS: He's just done it so many times. He did it when we were in New Orleans. He's done it with us this season. When he was with other teams, like he was always the guy to go get the ball. So he's not afraid of those moments.

It's all about winning for Chris. It could have been taking a charge, it just so happened to be a free throw situation. It's something we work on, something we walk through, but those guys, like Chris just want the ball in those situations because they want to win the game. It's not about anything else but winning the game.

Q. You talked about Deandre's contributions and I'm curious about the offensive rebounding specifically. He had nine and you also had Jae and Mikal each had three. How important was that with how poor you guys were shooting, and just kind of eating the clock a little bit in that situation?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I mean, if you're going to miss that much, you hope to get some of them back. So DA's ability to keep balls in play without going over the back, like he's one of the best I've ever seen at getting up in the air and reaching over and tipping it to himself.

But to your point, to have that many guys or three guys get that many offensive rebounds is huge for us. It's something that I was not comfortable with before this season, going to the boards that much, I was always get three, four guys back. Kevin Young, has pretty much forced us to do it and it's really helped us this year unleashing Mikal and Cam and Jae and Torrey has been really good at that this season for us to get us extra possessions. So it was certainly valuable for us tonight with the way we shot the ball.

Q. That five-minute cold stretch in the fourth quarter when you guys were stuck on 71, I can't remember this group ever being that cold but do grind-house games like that, do they favor you all or the Clippers? Are you okay going into a grind-house defensive affair on Monday?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I'm not sure I'm comfortable with anything other than winning. But I think in those moments it's not even about comfort level, it's just about winning the game and doing whatever it takes. There was a game I think with -- Brooklyn had a game this year that was in the 70s, 80s. When you have playoff basketball and it's physical and everybody knows your sets, sometimes you're going to have a game like that. I'm just glad we won it.

So I'm not quite sure I'm ever comfortable in those situations but I'm just glad we won it. To be able to do it on the road is special. To your point, we haven't had games like that this year where we just couldn't put the ball in the basket, but I'm glad when we did have an output like that, we were able to win the game.

Q. Related, the three-point shot hasn't really been falling for you guys for most of this series. Have you been, I mean obviously this game tonight was just a slugfest in that regard, but have you been happy with the quality of shots that you're getting from long range or is that just a matter of kind of needing to make shots?

MONTY WILLIAMS: They played really good defense on us. I mean, when you switch as well as they do -- the reason teams switch is to take away the three-point shot. Switching in theory keeps you out of rotations. Most threes are generated in transition off of pushing the ball or pick and rolls where the big dives, you go help and you give up a three in the corner or the wing. So when you switch you tend to not give up as many threes and they switch as much as anybody in the league, other than Brooklyn.

So I think that's part of the deal. They got up more threes than we did tonight, but they probably take more off the dribble threes with Paul and Reggie than most teams. So my hope is that we shoot the ball better the next game, but I hope our defense continues to hold form the way that it did tonight.

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