Deandre Ayton, Cameron Payne ‘wait and see’ as Suns face Rockets

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Deandre Ayton showed more mobility on Wednesday.

Cameron Payne continues to progress, but both Suns are listed as questionable for Thursday’s game against the Rockets (1-6) at Footprint Center.

“They did a little bit of work on the pitch today, but no 5v5, nothing live, so we still have to wait and see where they are on game day,” Suns coach said. Monty Williams after practice on Wednesday.

Ayton won Tuesday’s 112-100 victory over New Orleans after sustaining a contusion to his right leg in Saturday’s victory over Cleveland.

November 2, 2021;  Phoenix, Arizona, United States;  Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton reacts in action against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Footprint Center.

“Looks like he’s moving better,” the great Frank Kaminsky said of Ayton. “I don’t know how well he feels. I know he really feels better today. So we’ll see how it goes.”

Payne has missed the Suns’ last four games (3-3) with right hamstring strain suffered last month against the Lakers at the STAPLES Center.

“I’m getting there,” Payne said after practice Monday. “It’s starting to get better. I’m just trying to take my time so that I don’t come back too early and be out longer.”

The Suns were able to win Tuesday without Ayton as big substitutes JaVale McGee and Kaminsky combined for 35 points and eight rebounds.

“It was good,” Kaminsky said. “Just having these different pushes. JaVale comes in and brings a lot of different things. He’s more on the rim than me and I, especially playing with Chris (Paul) and the way they were blasting the ball screens, I like to play. in that pocket and being able to play games for others and try to end up on the edge. ”

Starting in place of Ayton, McGee finished with 18 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes while Kaminsky came off the bench to score 17 in 29 minutes.

November 2, 2021;  Phoenix, Arizona, United States;  Phoenix Suns forward Frank Kaminsky (8) watches the basket against New Orleans Pelicans goaltender Trey Murphy III (25) at the Footprint Center.

“Starting with Frank, just up to the occasion, didn’t play a lot and just jumped into the fire,” Suns two-star Devin Booker said as Kaminsky only played. ‘only one game this season before Tuesday. “Just ready. This is an awesome way to go about it.”

McGee and Kaminsky also had a combined 10 of 11 from the line.

“I think JaVale and Chris (Paul) are finding a chemistry,” Booker said as Paul finished with a record 18 assists to move up to third place on the NBA’s assists list.

“Every time they come out it gets a little better and JaVale is in the right places and he’s rewarded. You see what he does with it when he puts the ball in the middle.”

Williams planned to use McGee in four- to five-minute segments to maximize the energy exerted by the bulk of the backup.

“We’re starting to recognize that and you don’t want to put a guy in deficit,” Williams said. “JaVale has played basketball a lot, but I don’t think anyone is in very good shape in the league right now. So I think it’s something I need to manage better overall.”

Minute management worked for McGee, who opened the fourth quarter with seven runs in an 11-4 streak that put Phoenix, 87-86, ahead with 9:33 to go.

“It was amazing,” McGee said. “The way Chris was passing the ball, setting it up and getting people in the right position was really amazing and I was just feeding off that. I was just trying to make the right plays and the way the defense was playing, I was just try to read it. ”

Four of those points for McGee came from two thunderous jams that gave Booker a double take.

“I’ve had some amazing dunks that I haven’t seen among a lot of people,” Booker said.

As for Kaminsky, his game was largely a product of understanding the Suns’ system as he is in his third season playing for Williams.

November 2, 2021;  Phoenix, Arizona, United States;  Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) and center JaVale McGee (00) chat during a break against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Footprint Center.

“Frank Kaminsky’s efforts tonight and his ability to be emotionally and mentally ready and work hard every day is a testament to sticking with that,” Williams said after the game. “He’s not complaining. He’s just doing his job every day. First guy on the floor.”

In addition to the 17 points, Kaminsky had three assists, four steals, a career-high, and helped the Suns slow down Jonas Valanciunas, who didn’t score a fourth quarter goal on a 0-on-3 shot after going. scored 23 points in three quarters.

“He basically went in and fundamentally changed the game for us in a number of ways,” said Williams. “He played a very good defense against Valanciunas. We didn’t have to overtake and that kept us with their shooters.”

Do you have an opinion on the current state of the Suns? Contact Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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