Kevin Durant feels a sense of comfort.
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 105-91 wire-to-wire victory on Wednesday night.
Devin Booker scored 37 points and Deandre Ayton had 16 points and 16 rebounds in the Suns’ seventh win in 10 games. Chris Paul added 11 assists.
Durant, acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 9, showed no lingering effects from a sprained right knee that sidelined him for more than seven weeks. And the 34-year-old star fit right in 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 was trying to make me as comfortable as possible. I’ve just got to keep riding it, man.”
Durant hit two 3s, a flurry of mid-range jumpers and showed he still has the burst to get to the hole on a left-handed layup for his first basket with the Suns. He also gave the defense a boost, blocking Hornets rookie center Mark Williams twice in the first five minutes.
Suns coach Monty Williams said he doesn’t want Durant to worry about being the team’s leader, just playing.
“I think there are too many players in the NBA who have too much pressure to lead,” Williams said. “I don’t think it’s necessary. My job is to lead. Players do it at points, but that’s all I told him. I said, ‘I’m not looking for him to lead. We just want you. Be yourself and hoop.’ , and I think that’s where he’s freer to be himself.”
Phoenix (34-29) entered the game ranked fourth in the Western Conference, but could be poised for a strong finish with Durant anchoring what can be an explosive offense.
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 Kelly Oubre Jr., who started with LaMelo Ball out.
But Durant, who had played just 19 minutes through the first three quarters, returned to start the fourth quarter and began to take over.
He hit a 17-footer off a ball fake and drew 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.
Report from The Associated Press.
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