'Poke the bear': Deandre Ayton responds to Scottie Barnes in Suns' win over Raptors
Deandre Ayton didn’t like how Scottie Barnes fouled him midway through the third quarter Monday night.
A little stare down. A little chatter. A little separation between the two.
Ayton was more than a little upset.
“I love it,” Ayton said. “You turn me up. You poke the bear. I wish it would get poked every game. Nobody wants to make me mad."
Ayton responded with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting the rest of the game in helping Phoenix top the Raptors, 114-106, before a sellout crowd of 17,071 at Footprint Center.
He finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds with his final two, a putback of a Torrey Craig follow, gave Phoenix a 108-102 lead with 51.4 seconds left in the game.
“Torrey just attacks the glass and comes up with possessions and DA has a big-time follow up,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.
Ayton already came into the game with extra incentive to play well Monday against the Raptors after his ugly performance against them on Dec. 30 in Toronto.
“I had a lot of grit coming into this game because I went into Toronto and stunk it up,” Ayton said.
The Suns big had just a season-low four points on 2-of-10 shooting, seven rebounds and gave up a huge offensive rebound and putback to Barnes with Phoenix down five late in a 113-104 loss.
“I came into this game wanting to just destroy them,” Ayton said. “Every time I got the ball, if you saw me, I was very animated on some of my misses when I went to the bench.”
The chair likely still hasn’t recovered after Ayton roughed it up.
“Hoping next game it can forgive me, " Ayton jokingly said.
Ayton scored 12 points in the first half, but he needed 12 shots (made five) to reach that number.
“I was just so frustrated,” Ayton said. “Like forget about being fouled, I think I was just going up a little too soft with every shot I took. Normally, this ain’t happening to me. I saw what I was shooting at half and I didn’t like it, so I was like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to put my head down and just try to be as greedy as possible.”
Ayton didn’t take a shot, gave up another Barnes putback and committed an offensive foul within the first six minutes of the third before he and Barnes got reacquainted with 6:08 left in the quarter.
Making both free throws to pull Phoenix within five, Ayton later missed a tip-in dunk attempt, but had back-to-back buckets off Chris Paul's assists to give Phoenix an 80-77 lead with 2:18 left in the third.
“I just had to let that go,” Ayton continued. “My teammates, Jock (Landale), T-Craig, especially Bizzy (Bismack Biyombo). Everybody was talking to me like, ‘Come on DA, just push through this. Keep pushing. Put a smile on your face.’ I don’t think I cracked a smile all day. I just wanted to destroy them real bad. I just had to calm down and relax. I think I was doing a little bit too much.”
Barnes finished the game with 16 points, going 0-for-4 from 3, seven rebounds and five assists to four turnovers.
Suns update: Booker on course to return this week after re-evaluation
Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at email@example.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.
Support local journalism. Start your online subscription.