Monty Williams On Transition Defense Without Devin Booker: ‘Worst We Ever Looked in Transition Defense’

The Phoenix Suns fell short to the New Orleans Pelicans 125-114 in Game 2 of their first-round series. Now with the playoff series tied 1-1, the Suns are uncertain about the return of Devin Booker.

After a stellar 31-point first half, Booker exited the game with right hamstring tightness in the third quarter while Phoenix trailed 77-74.

During a press conference, Suns Coach Monty Williams told reporters that the injury happened as he was tracking Jaxson Hayes down on defense.

“It happened on a play during transition, and that’s where I think it happened,” Williams said. “Other than that, we don’t have much say about it, but it is a hamstring injury.

Booker missed multiple games early in the season with a hamstring injury. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, he returned to the sidelines in his warmup suit and did not re-enter the game.

Without its leading scorer, the Suns took an early lead in the fourth quarter; however, big shots from Pelicans stars CJ McCollum, and Brandon Ingram caused Phoenix to struggle defensively without Booker on the floor.

Williams told the press that the transition defense was the most significant difference once Booker was ruled out in the fourth quarter.

“Transition defense, it was probably for us the worst we ever looked in transition defense since I been here. For that to happen in a playoff was a bit unsettling for everyone. Our guys have to understand this team is going to play hard, as we seen in the third quarter. We missed a shot, and they were taking off, so that was a bit deflating, and they got hot from three. The transition defensive balance was not there at any level for us tonight.”

Game 3 will be played Friday, April 22, in New Orleans.