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“We've been embarrassed the last two years ” – Deandre Ayton sounds determined to triumph this season after beating Lakers

Phoenix Suns v Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns big man Deandre Ayton

The Phoenix Suns defeated the LA Lakers for the eighth straight time, including the 2021 playoffs, on Tuesday night, winning their matchup 115-105 on Tuesday night. Even so, Suns center Deandre Ayton let it be known that the Suns (11-6) were not satisfied with just this win.

"This team, we've been embarrassed the last two years playing the best basketball we've ever played and never finishing," Ayton said. "So, if you think tonight is where we stopping at? Nah. Nah, we looking at the brighter picture. We fighting for something way bigger than that."

Ayton wasn’t impressed with his team's win over Los Angeles and is looking further down the road. He is correct that they are disappointed in how they finished the previous two seasons.

Last season, the team was knocked out in the Western Conference semifinals by the Dallas Mavericks. The Suns were fully expected to make it back to the NBA Finals. The team had the league's best record, finishing the regular season with a franchise best 64-18 mark. The team was just overpowered by Luka Doncic and the Mavericks and got blown out in Games 6 and 7.

The prior season, the Suns lost in the 2021 NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.

Deandre Ayton: "This team, we've been embarrassed the last two years playing the best basketball we've ever played and never finishing. So if you think tonight is where we stopping at? Nah. Nah, we looking at the brighter picture. We fighting for something way bigger than that."

The team has played well this season and has won three of their last four games. This is despite being without future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul for the past six games. The Suns currently sit in first place in the Pacific Division.


How long will the Suns' window stay open

The Suns have had championship aspirations over the past few seasons, but how much time do they have with this current roster? The team almost lost Deandre Ayton this offseason as a restricted free agent. Ayton signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, but the Suns matched the offer.

The Phoenix Suns have matched Deandre Ayton's four-year, $133M offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers, his agents told @wojespn.Ayton can't be traded without his consent for a full year. https://t.co/ZXm57dkjqz

Although Ayton’s numbers are a little down from last season, he is still an important part of the team. The biggest question the Suns will have to answer is how long will they have Chris Paul for this run? The 12-time All-Star is in his 18th season and is currently out with an injury.

Injuries have been something that has followed Paul for a good portion of his career and especially late in his career. An injury stopped him from making the finals when he was a member of the Houston Rockets.

Injuries to Chris Paul (or his co-star) in the playoffs:2015 — Hamstring injury2016 — Broken hand2017 — Toe injury (Blake)2018 — Hamstring injury2021 — Shoulder injury2022 — Hamstring injury (Booker) https://t.co/9jfDFgEyCv

If the team has another injury late in the season to Paul, Ayton or Devin Booker, it could mean trouble. Also, with Paul in Year 18, it is a lot to expect big performances consistently at his advanced age, turning 38 in May. This could be one of the last years of this run for Phoenix.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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