CHARLOTTE – Kevin Durant was jumping up and down in the Spectrum Center hallways with high energy and intensity Wednesday night.
The time had finally come for him to make his debut with his new team – the Phoenix Suns.
Durant scored 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting in 27 minutes in helping the Suns (34-29) top the Charlotte Hornets, 105-91, before a sellout crowd of 19,137.
Before the game, Durant ran onto the court last to the sound of cheers and quiet anticipation, fans ready to see him perform with a squad that was already pretty darn good with an All-Star backcourt of Devin Booker and Chris Paul to go along with talented big Deandre Ayton.
Now they’re considered favorites to win it all this season with the addition of one of the all-time greats as they opened the Durant era.
“We don’t even talk about it because we’re not there,” Suns coach Monty Williams said before Wednesday’s game. “We’ve got way too much work to do and way too many things to do.”
Wearing his usual hoodie, Durant was dunking during the layup line that further showed the status of his right knee. The 13-time All-Star hadn’t played since Jan. 8 when he suffered a right MCL sprain at Miami while with Brooklyn.
Right before Wednesday’s opening tip, Durant tied each of his shoes on the score table, walked to center court, pointed at both ends of the floor and positioned himself on the left side of the midcourt stripe.
Then he had a series of firsts as a member of the Suns in Wednesday’s win over the Hornets (20-44).
11:24: First touch (off off-ball screen).
11:21: First missed shot.
10:06: First made shot (Dribble drive to the rim).
8:46: First block.
8:37: First 3.
6:15: Takes first seat (Torrey Craig checked in for Durant, who sat between Cameron Payne and Bismack Biymobo on the bench).
11:38: First rebound.
11:28: first turnover.
10:38: First assist (From the mid post to Damion Lee on a cut down the middle of the lane).
8:10: First hi-five. (Jock Landale after Landale blocked Kelly Oubre’s drive).
7:52: First midrange jumper.
Durant finished the first half with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting (2-of-3 from 3), three rebounds, two blocks and an assist in 13 minutes.
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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