Rowdy Kings fans forced Ayton, Suns to rely on sign language originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Phoenix Suns' players had to double-check the date after their 122-117 win over the Kings at Golden 1 Center.
It was indeed Nov. 28, just over five weeks into the 2022-23 NBA season, yet it felt like a playoff atmosphere in Sactown on Monday night.
The cowbells were ringing, fans were on their feet and it was so loud that the Suns were nearly forced to learn a new language in the middle of the intense contest.
“I thought it was a playoff game,” Suns center Deandre Ayton told reporters after the game. “It was so loud in there, you have no idea. I couldn’t hear myself, I couldn’t hear coach. We just started doing sign language and hopefully we got the right call or the right communication.”
Ayton had a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double Monday, on 8-of-10 shooting from the field.
But all eyes were on Phoenix star Devin Booker, who was the closest thing to quieting the Sacramento crowd with a game-high 44 points on 17-of-28 shooting from the field and made all nine of his free throw attempts. He also added eight rebounds, four assists and six steals.
Even though it was Booker who put on a show and was an offensive machine, the 26-year-old, three-time All-Star was very impressed with what he saw from the Kings.
“I think they’re playing some of the best offense in the NBA right now,” Booker said. “De’Aaron [Fox] is playing really well. [Domantas] Sabonis is making plays for everybody. [Kevin] Huerter [is] making every shot he takes.
“They have weapons out there and they play well together and they’re playing hard.”
For the Kings, it was Malik Monk who led the team with 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 from behind the arc, along with eight assists and an energy like no other.
Booker knows a thing or two about what Monk brings to the table.
“Yeah,” Booker said with a smile. “That’s my dog right there. Kentucky brother. He’s been playing out of his mind this season. I think that’s why you see the early success for them. That’s good basketball.”
It was a playoff atmosphere for a team who hasn't made it there in 16 seasons -- an NBA record and the longest active playoff drought in North American sports.
Suns coach and the 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year Monty Williams thinks that can change this season.
"I mean, Fox has always been one of the best players in the league. They added a top-tier center. Harrison [Barnes] is one of the best forwards in the league, he’s versatile," Williams said postgame. "But then you see the development of some of their younger guys. Monk and [Kevin] Huerter, they give you a different look. Those guys can shoot the ball, they can get to the basket, they can play off the dribble. And they’re all tough.
"This is not an easy place to win. It never has been, but now it's like you’re looking at a playoff team, in my estimation, just because they have everything. They can post you up. They can play in pick-and-roll and they have shooters everywhere."
Booker entered the league in 2015 and was a part of an organization that didn't make the playoffs for the first five seasons of his career. He knows the feeling better than anyone.
"They're in a better place than we were," Booker said. "We didn’t have no game win streak. I didn’t win three games in a row until about my fifth season. Different situation but they have something brewing here that everyone should be excited about."