Kevin Durant has been to Phoenix several times in his 15 NBA seasons, but he’s found an early go-to restaurant in his first three weeks with the Phoenix Suns.
“I’ve been going to Ocean 44 the last couple of weeks,” Durant said. “I’ve got to do more exploring. I’ve heard there are so many amazing spots out there.”
He’s received help finding a place to live.
“Having friends in the city already,” Durant said. “It’s a very warm and welcoming city. People just want to see me as comfortable as possible. I’m very grateful for it.”
What’s next on the Durant agenda? Make his Suns home debut Wednesday against Oklahoma City before an expected sellout crowd of 17,071 at Footprint Center.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and playing as hard as I can for them,” Durant said after Tuesday’s practice.
Undefeated with Kevin Durant on the court
The Suns (36-29) are 3-0 with Durant. He hit the game winner with 12.4 seconds left in Sunday’s 130-126 comeback victory at Dallas to conclude a four-game road trip.
“Any time you play a game, you want to win,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “From that perspective, we’re happy about it, but there’s also some things that we need to get better at. We still have a ways to go as far as making the right coverage adjustments quick, we’re not there yet. Offensively, because of the shot making, it probably looks better than what it really is.”
The 13-time All-Star and two-time finals MVP is averaging 26.7 points on an insane 69% shooting (7-of-13 from 3), 7.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 blocks in his three games with Phoenix.
“It’s been solid,” said Durant about his three games with the Suns. “I feel like I can get acclimated with the offense a little quicker. I feel like a couple of plays that I didn’t know. With practice time, it can only help. I’m getting there. I think my teammates have been great. Coaching staff have been great talking me through everything. It’s a lot of different terminology, but almost the same type of sets you run amongst the whole league.”
Phoenix marks Durant’s fourth NBA team, but this is the first time he’s changed squads midseason.
The Suns traded Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four first round picks and a pick swap to Brooklyn for T.J. Warren and Durant right before the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
“It’s definitely different,” Durant said. “The basketball side is the easier part, but the life piece of it is definitely different. Getting up and moving to a totally different coast but I’ve been on the West coast before and played in the Western Conference the majority of my career.”
Durant started his NBA career with the Seattle SuperSonics, who moved to Oklahoma City, and continued it with Golden State before going to Brooklyn.
“I’ve been coming to Phoenix a lot,” Durant said. “To be living here now is pretty cool. It’s been three weeks now. It’s definitely better than it was early on. I’m glad I’m playing again, and things are getting back to normal.”
Durant adjusts quickly with Suns
Durant is coming off a right MCL sprain he suffered Jan. 8 at Miami while playing for Brooklyn. He didn’t play for nearly two months, but Durant hasn’t shown any signs of rust in his three games with the Suns.
“He’s a plug-in player,” Suns All-Star Devin Booker said after Sunday’s game. “You can put him in any environment, any offense, any set and he’s going to be efficient. He’s going to make sure other people get open looks. He’s going to play the right way.”
Durant was on a minute restriction going into his Suns debut last Wednesday at Charlotte where he played just 27 minutes.
Two days later, he played 31 minutes at Chicago.
Less than 48 hours after that, Durant played 40 at Dallas in the Sunday afternoon showdown that had 12 ties and 13 lead changes.
“It was all of us being competitive,” Williams said. “Trying to win that game.”
Durant played 22 of the 24 minutes in the second half, scoring 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting after the break.
“Just certain games over the course of the season that bring that out of you,” Williams continued. “You don’t want to admit it, but that’s the way it is. It was a highly competitive game, and I was just trying my best to read the game. He didn’t look exhausted. He looked like he was in a good rhythm from a cardio standpoint.”
After a pause, Williams summed up his decision in a few short words.
“I just left him out there,” Williams said with a laugh.
Durant didn’t mind.
“Monty understands that stress is the best way to get better,” Durant said. “As much as I can be in those type of games, feel that physicality as I’m coming back and getting integrated with the team. I think that’s the best way to do it. Throw me in the fire. That’s usually the approach that I take when I get hurt, pushing myself to the brink and I’m glad he was able to trust me.”
Williams was trying to win, too.
“I’m glad the game was tight, so he didn’t have a choice,” Durant said with a smile. “That was a fun game. I’m glad I was able to come out of there clean.”
Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.
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