Kevin Durant returned from his injury absence to score 23 points and lead the Suns to a 105-91 win over the Hornets on Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- It marked Durant’s first game with the Suns after he was traded from Brooklyn on Feb. 9. The 13-time All-Star has been out since Jan. 9 after suffering an MCL sprain.
- Along with the 23 points, Durant tallied six rebounds and two assists, and he blocked two shots in 27 minutes of play.
- Durant’s star teammates impressed as well, as Devin Booker led all players with 37 points, Chris Paul dished a game-high 11 assists and Deandre Ayton led all players with 16 rebounds.
- The Suns improved to 34-29 with the win and sit in fourth place in the Western Conference.
Durant scored 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting in his Suns debut, helping Phoenix snap the Charlotte Hornets’ five-game winning streak with a wire-to-wire 105-91 victory Wednesday night.
Devin Booker scored 37 points and Deandre Ayton had 16 points and 16 rebounds in the Suns’ seventh victory in 10 games. Chris Paul added 11 assists.
Durant, acquired in blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 9, showed no lingering effects from a sprained right knee that kept him out of action for more than seven weeks. And the 34-year-old star fit in rather seamlessly with his new club, also grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots in 27 minutes.
“I feel like I fit in pretty well,” Durant said. “Everybody out there was trying to make me as comfortable as possible. I just have to keep riding it, man.”
“This is one of those moments that doesn’t really feel real,” Booker said. “I mean, it’s just every time he shoots the ball, it’s just so effortless. You can see defenders trying their hardest to contest or fight over a screen and he just looks unbothered, unfazed.”
But it was when Booker and Durant were separated where the Suns’ game plan with them came into focus.
In both halves, Durant played stretches with four bench players, and both times the score went from close to double-digit Phoenix leads as he drilled a series of his trademark midrange jumpers. He ended the game having shot 10-of-15.
Those stretches, essentially, made it a stress-free win as the Suns never trailed and Durant ended up with a plus-13 plus/minus, second best on the team.
When Durant, who played four six-minute shifts and then the final three minutes as part of a minutes restriction, was sitting, it was Booker who was going to work — making 15 of 26 shots as he worked off Chris Paul, who had 11 assists, per usual.
Durant simplifies Deandre Ayton’s role a lot as well and the big man was rock solid in Charlotte with 16 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and a block with sound defensive play throughout.
Josh Okogie got the nod as the fifth starter. He was part of that defensive havoc and has two steals and a block to go with four points.
Durant’s minutes restriction and the absence of Terrence Ross (right toe soreness) denied us a chance at clarity for what the post-Durant Suns rotation looks like.
Durant played roughly the first six minutes of each quarter and then sat the rest of the way except for the last three of the game. It was 15 minutes off the bench each for Craig, Jock Landale, Damion Lee and Cam Payne. While Ish Wainright was the second wing off the bench, Williams did turn to Warren for the first time in three games. Warren scored two points in 13 minutes.
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