PHOENIX — Move on.
Put the last game in the past and get ready for the next one.
Deandre Ayton has picked up that approach from the veterans, but he’s more than frustrated with how his rookie season with the Suns has begun.
“I’m tired of talk saying it’s early,” Ayton said. “Saying it’s too early, we’re a young team. I’m tired of that talk. Did in college. People were saying we were too young and da-da-da-da-da. Destroyed all of them. I think I can do it again in the NBA as well.”
The former Arizona Wildcats star sounds determined to raise his level of play for Thursday’s game against the Celtics (6-4).
“That’s a bigger game,” Ayton said. “It’s a tough team. That’s our last home game. Try our best to defend our home court. That’s what I’m going to do. I got to spread the word. Show by example and spread this energy because I’m going to try to go all out. I might get fouled out, too.”
Fans booed during Tuesday’s 22-point loss to the Nets as Phoenix (2-8) scored a season-low 82 points on 34.6 percent shooting. The Suns committed 22 turnovers, gave up 21 fast-break points and didn’t play the with same sense of urgency they displayed in beating the Grizzlies nights earlier.
“I’d be doing the same thing if I was up there,” Suns guard Devin Booker said. “I understand it. At the same time, we need to fix it. At least show effort. I think that’s what they want to see. We haven’t given that.”
Ayton said he doesn’t pay attention to fans booing. He said he’s been booed all his life.
Arizona fans might disagree with that, but Ayton doesn’t want to end a five-game homestand with another defeat.
“I don’t really hear it,” Ayton said. “It’s whatever. The only thing you can possibly do is just try to win. That’s just our mentality. Win. Win. Win. I was speaking to ‘Book,’ I’m like we need to take over. Let’s start taking over. Let’s really do it. We’re not in training camp anymore Let’s really show the world what we can do.”
When talking about Tuesday’s loss, Ayton initially said the Suns played with effort but lacked focus. Phoenix trailed by only two points at the end of the first quarter.
Ayton, who started the game shooting 2 of 5 from the field, pointed at himself for missing what he called “a lot of easy jumpers.” He ended up making just 1 of his 8 attempts from beyond 15 feet.
“I should’ve had 40,” said Ayton. “That’s life. Shots don’t fall. Find something else to help the team win.”
Ayton posted his sixth double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds, but the 7-footer missed 11 of 17 shots from the field. As he continued to recount the game in terms of his play, Ayton said the focus and effort wasn’t there in the second half.
“I will say that,” Ayton said. “Focus and effort wasn’t there at all.”
Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said Ayton needs to get to the rim when teams slump off him like Brooklyn did.
Ayton questioned his options in that situation.
“If somebody is under the rim, and you’re at the free-throw line, where can you really go?” Ayton said. “He’s right above the charge circle. So, there’s really no room.”
Ayton believes Phoenix can be “a way better team” with improved chemistry and for him, that starts with being honest his teammates about what they’re doing right, and wrong.
“You don’t want to do it in an embarrassing way,” Ayton said. “Man-to-man. Let him be honest on how he feels and how he wants to be talked to and how he’s used to being talked to. It’s just stuff like that, as a team, we’ve got to really sit down and really talk to each other and look each other in the eye and see who got our back in battle.
“That’s it. It’s more than basketball.”