Chris Paul calls Deandre Ayton the anchor of the Phoenix Suns’ defense. With Ayton on the bench for much of the second half, that defense sank. The 6-foot-11 center’s inability to avoid foul trouble enabled Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks to have their way in a 120-100 Game 3 victory over the Suns on Sunday night.
“He’s a big part of our team,” said Paul, the Suns’ All-Star point guard. “He’s the anchor of our defense. I feel like any (opposing) team would love for him not to be on the court offensively and defensively.” Phoenix also missed Devin Booker’s production, as he shot 3 of 14 and collected just 10 points after scoring 27 in Game 1 and 31 in Game 2.
Ayton’s absence showed just how big his presence on the floor is for the Suns. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft scored 16 points in the first 14 ½ minutes of Game 3 but picked up his fourth foul with 10:25 left in the third quarter and sat out the rest of the period. By the time he returned, the Bucks owned a 22-point lead. While Ayton wasn’t made available to reporters after the game, his teammates emphasized how much they missed him.