Kevin Durant scores 23 points in Charlotte on Suns debut
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 23 points on 10 of 15 shooting in his Suns debut, helping Phoenix end the Charlotte Hornets’ five-game winning streak with a 105 wire-to-wire victory -91 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 from the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 9, showed no lingering effects from a sprained right knee that kept him out of action for more than seven weeks.
The 34-year-old star has fitted in perfectly at his new club, also grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots in 27 minutes.
Durant hit two 3s, a flurry of midrange jumpers and showed he still had the flurry to get to the hole on a left-handed layup for his first field goal with the Suns. He also gave the defense a boost, blocking Hornets rookie center Mark Williams twice in the opening five minutes.
Phoenix (34-29) entered the game fourth in the Western Conference standings, but could be poised to finish strong with Durant grounding what has the potential to be an explosive offense.
The Hornets played without LaMelo Ball, who underwent season-ending surgery Wednesday to repair a broken right ankle. Kelly Oubre Jr. took over with 26 points for Charlotte (20-44), while Terry Rozier added 20 points.
Durant scored 12 points in the first half as Phoenix opened up a 57-41 lead.
Charlotte cut Phoenix’s lead to six in the fourth quarter behind former Sun Oubre, who started with Ball out.
But Durant, who had only played 19 minutes in the first three quarters, came back to the start in the fourth quarter and started to take over.
He hit a 17-footer on a foul ball, drawing a foul to set up a three-point play. The 15-year-old seemed to find his groove from there, knocking down three more mid-range jumpers to extend the lead to 12 and finished with nine points in the fourth quarter.
BALL SEASON IS OVER
The Hornets announced Wednesday night that Ball had undergone surgery to repair a broken right ankle and will miss the rest of the season.
The third-year point guard was injured in Charlotte’s Monday night win over the Detroit Pistons. Ball, 21, has been limited to 36 games this season. He sprained his left ankle three times earlier this season which cost him 27 games.
Suns: There were a lot of questions about who would be the team’s fifth starter, with coach Monty Williams accompanying Josh Okogie alongside Durant, Ayton, Booker and Paul.
Hornets: PJ Washington missed his third straight game with knee pain. … Oubre returned to the starting lineup in Ball’s absence.
Suns: In Chicago Friday night.
Hornets: Close out a four-game homestand against Orlando on Friday night.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – at email@example.com The content will be deleted within 24 hours.