Kevin Durant shines in his debut with Phoenix Suns, scoring 23 points in victory over Charlotte Hornets

Suns' Kevin Durant makes impressive debut with 23 points

Suns' Kevin Durant makes impressive debut with 23 points

On Wednesday night, Kevin Durant made his debut with the Phoenix Suns, scoring 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, and helping his team secure a 105-91 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. The Suns' victory snapped the Hornets' five-game winning streak, thanks in large part to Devin Booker, who scored 37 points, Deandre Ayton, who had 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Chris Paul, who added 11 assists.


Durant, who was acquired by the Suns in a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets on February 9th, showed no lingering effects from his sprained right knee that kept him out of action for more than seven weeks. The 34-year-old star fit in seamlessly with his new team, grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots in 27 minutes. Durant said, "I feel like I fit in pretty well. Everybody out there was trying to make me as comfortable as possible. I just have to keep riding it, man."

Durant made two 3-pointers, several mid-range jumpers, and even showed he still has the burst to get to the hole on a driving left-handed layup for his first basket with the Suns. He also provided a boost on defense, blocking Hornets rookie center Mark Williams twice in the opening five minutes. Phoenix coach Monty Williams said he doesn't want Durant worrying about being a team leader, but rather just playing.

The Suns entered the game in fourth place in the Western Conference standings, and with Durant anchoring what has the potential to be an explosive offense, they could be poised for a strong finish. On the other hand, the Hornets played without LaMelo Ball, who underwent season-ending surgery on Wednesday to repair a fracture in his right ankle. Kelly Oubre Jr. picked up the scoring slack with 26 points for Charlotte, while Terry Rozier added 20 points.

Durant scored 12 points in the first half as Phoenix opened a 57-41 lead. Charlotte cut Phoenix's lead to six entering the fourth quarter behind former Sun Oubre, who got the start with Ball out. But Durant, who had only played 19 minutes in the first three quarters, returned to the start the fourth quarter and began to take over. He hit a 17-footer off a ball fake, drawing a foul to set up a three-point play. The 15-year veteran seemed to find his groove from there, knocking down three more mid-range jumpers to push the lead to 12 and finished with nine points in the fourth quarter.

The Hornets announced Wednesday night that Ball had surgery to repair a fracture in his right ankle and will miss the remainder of the season. The third-year point guard was injured in Charlotte’s victory Monday night over the Detroit Pistons. The 21-year-old Ball was limited to 36 games this season. He sprained his left ankle three times earlier this season, costing him 27 games.

Suns coach Monty Williams went with Josh Okogie alongside Durant, Ayton, Booker, and Paul as the team's fifth starter, while P.J. Washington missed his third straight

Durant Shines in Suns Debut: Coach's Simple Plan Works Wonders

Kevin Durant's debut with the Phoenix Suns was highly anticipated, and he did not disappoint. With Coach Monty Williams' simple plan of getting Durant comfortable, the star player showed no signs of rust, despite being on a minutes restriction. He missed his first shot, but quickly found his rhythm, hitting 3-pointers, mid-range and fadeaway jumpers. Durant also helped his teammates, passing out of double teams and providing a boost in the fourth quarter when the team needed it most.

Overall, the Suns performed well with Durant on the court, assisting on 30 of 42 field goals and showing promise as a team. Although there may be some growing pains ahead, this win over the Charlotte Hornets can serve as a solid first step for the Suns with Durant leading the charge.