Kevin Durant scores 23 in debut as Suns beat Hornets

Kevin Durant shook off the rust after a virtually two-month layoff, scoring 23 factors in his Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday. The Suns beat the Charlotte Hornets 105-91. Devin Booker had 37 factors, whereas Deandre Ayton had 16 factors and 16 rebounds.

Full recap and highlights of Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Suns debut

Kevin Durant’s winding path to the Suns

It looks as if it has been ages since Kevin Durant truly performed basketball, however his debut in a Phoenix Suns uniform is upon us. He’ll take the ground in opposition to the now-depleted Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday in Charlotte, marking his first recreation in nicely over a month.

What started with a loud however unfulfilled commerce request translated to a quiet but apparent commerce, consummated three weeks in the past when Durant’s tumultuous Brooklyn Nets tenure ended. He walked away with loads of what-ifs and walked into extra of the identical in Phoenix, albeit below totally different circumstances.

Durant will be part of Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton in what may very well be a last-ditch alternative to win a championship after the Suns’ playoff run led to disappointment within the second spherical final May.

The Suns gave the impression to be Durant’s predominant goal when he requested out final summer time, earlier than his four-year, $194 million extension kicked in. He was disgruntled with the route of the Nets franchise, because the Nets traded James Harden months earlier than and Kyrie Irving’s future was unsure.

Not a lot modified after Durant rescinded his commerce demand, although he and the Nets initially performed good. He returned to his MVP-like kind on the ground earlier than his current MCL damage in early January.

Days into the season, head coach Steve Nash was fired, changed by Jacque Vaughn. Irving was traded when it was clear he and the Nets weren’t on the identical web page regarding his future, and that opened the door for Durant to reengage the Nets on shifting him. Meanwhile, Phoenix, whereas far and away the very best regular-season crew within the 2021-22 season, couldn’t recapture the magic this season — middling in the midst of the West’s playoff image.

Once new proprietor Mat Ishbia was cemented, he started pushing for an enormous transfer, and Durant was proper there for the taking. It took a haul — Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and a number of first-round picks — to safe him, nevertheless it reopened a title window that appeared shut beforehand.

Durant, who turned 34 firstly of coaching camp, is taking pictures a career-high 56% from the sphere and a career-high 62% on 2s. He replaces Paul because the piece the Suns will likely be most reliant upon within the postseason.

Paul, who’ll be 38 in May, notably slowed down within the Suns’ second-round loss to Dallas final 12 months, aiding in a surprising Game 7 collapse at dwelling. Durant’s crew final season was swept within the first spherical to the eventual finalist Boston Celtics.

All concerned wanted a reset button in a approach, and this traded supplied one. Durant will likely be on his fourth crew in his storied profession, and he has had particular person success at each cease.

He was a champion and Finals MVP with the Golden State Warriors however yearned for extra after three adorned however typically drama-filled years.

Now he has one other alternative to close up the group that believes he must validate himself another way. Should he assist this Suns crew by means of the maze of the Western Conference, he’ll in all probability accomplish that.

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