The new “Big Three” from Phoenix did not miss its first outing. Devin Booker and Chris Paul, spearheads in Arizona for two seasons, were awaiting the return from injury of Kevin Durant, traded to the Suns on February 8. After seven weeks of absence (knee), “KD” found the floors. Number 35 on the back, the one he wore in Oklahoma City and Golden State, the winger scored 23 points in Phoenix’s victory in Charlotte (105-91).
« It was fun, I missed being on the court, talking strategy, chatting with my teammates, all that camaraderie. I am happy to have been able to come back today (Wednesday) and to be able to try to build something. I want to succeed here Durant said after the game. The double NBA champion and MVP of the final (2017, 2018) was quick to open his counter, with a left-handed lay-up for the second basket of the Suns (4-0, 3rd) before registering his first award-winning shot, shifted by Devin Booker (7-0, 3rd).
Durant decisive in the last quarter
Associated with pivot Deandre Ayton (16 points, 16 rebounds) near the circle, “KD” also spoke about his sense of deterrence in defense (2 blocks), where the Suns only conceded five small points in six minutes before his exit. Led by former Phoenix winger Kelly Oubre (26 points), Charlotte nibbled away until returning to six lengths at the very start of the last quarter. Moment chosen by coach Monty Williams to revive Durant.
Without Paul or Booker, the former Brooklyn star made up the gap on his own with four baskets in a row at mid-distance – his favorite zone – the first with the fault of Kai Jones (91-77, 41st). ” I told him one thing, ‘I don’t want you trying to be a leader, I want you to be yourself and play’ and I think that’s where he’s most free. “, analyzed his trainer, quoted by ESPN.
Back on the floor, Booker (37 points) then hit the nail on the head and gave the Suns a peaceful end to the game. Finalist in 2021 then surprised in the semi-finals of the Conference by Dallas in the spring of 2022, Phoenix is fourth in the West (34 wins – 29 losses) and will have six weeks to perfect the automatisms of its “Big Three” before putting itself in quest for a first NBA title.