Phoenix Suns GM James Jones made sure to spread the love to Jae Crowder who inbounded the now famous “Valley-Oop” to Deandre Ayton in the closing second of the Suns’ Game 2 Western Confrence Finals win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“All of it came together, but if the pass was two inches shorter, (Clippers center Ivica) Zubac touches it before DA gets a chance to get it. So I thought the pass by Jae was immaculate,” Jones told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Wednesday.
“Guys like Jae who have been there, they find a way to come through in the clutch and he did that yesterday.”
With less than a second left on the game clock, Crowder flung the ball over the arms of defender DeMarcus Cousins to find Ayton who leaped just high enough over Zubac to slam the pass through the basket.
“It was pretty special,” Jones said. “It was a memorable moment. I think it will go down as probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest Suns playoff moment up until this point and hopefully we can make more of those moments going forward.”
Jones also gave praise to other role players who stepped up in huge ways in Game 3, particularly the two Cams.
Cam Johnson was perfect from the floor with a 5-for-5 shooting night, adding three rebounds and a steal to go with his 11 points.
“I can see his confidence continue to grow with every passing game and we’re going to need him to continue to do that.” Jones said. “The strength of our team is in our numbers and we’re expecting guys to step up every night.”
The other Cam, Cam Payne, filled out the score sheet and led the team with 29 points on 12-for-24 shooting, nine assists, two steals, two blocks and a whooping zero turnovers.
“He’s an ideal story of a guy who needed to find a team, system and a group that believed in him,” Jones said.
Jones also called Payne his most “satisfying” signing in his tenure as general manager.
For Payne, the pressure was mounting as his role changed from being a reliever for point guard Chris Paul to the starter asked to log 37 minutes in Game 2.
“With all of our guys, regardless of their role, we just ask them to be themselves,” Jones said.
In his best performance to date as a Sun, Payne did all that was asked of him and then some to help give the Suns a 2-0 series lead as they head to Game 3 in Los Angeles on Thursday.