Kevin Durant wasn’t at his best.
But after a long delay, he was a welcome sight for Phoenix Suns fans, who made his home debut in a 107-100 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
Durant was originally scheduled to make his home debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 8, four games after his first game in a Suns jersey. But an ankle injury sustained during the pre-game warm-up pushed it back three weeks to Wednesday.
He didn’t have a good start. Durant remained scoreless in the first quarter, failing to hit his first field goal until a turnaround jump from the wing over Timberwolves forward Jalen McDaniels stayed 5:23 in the second. He missed his first six attempts from the floor.
As Durant struggled, the Timberwolves took a 51-48 lead at halftime. But Devin Booker and Chris Paul carried the offensive load as the Suns recovered from a 10-point deficit to open an 81-74 lead to start fourth. Durant had 10 points on a 3-of-13 performance in three quarters.
The Timberwolves recovered and tied the game 84-84. Durant’s shooting problems didn’t stop him from taking his shot when called upon to do so. He hit a 3-pointer with 9:19 remaining to break the tie and give the Suns an 87-84 lead they wouldn’t give up.
Decisive victory for the west classification
The Timberwolves kept things tight on the track, but the Suns walked away with a decisive win. They went 40-35 on Wednesday with a weak hold on the crucial 4-seed in the West, the last spot securing home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They held a tiebreak over the fifth-placed Los Angeles Clippers and a 1.5 game advantage over the Timberwolves team they were playing against.
But they secured the win despite a poor night from Durant, who finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists while shooting 5 of 18 from the field. Booker led Phoenix’s effort with 29 points and five assists, while Paul added 19 points and six assists. The win gave the Suns a half-game buffer over the No. 4 Clippers, while pushing the Golden State Warriors back 1.5 games and the Timberwolves 2.5 games behind them overall.
Phoenix now have six regular season games left to further integrate one of the game’s historically great offensive players after acquiring Durant from the Brooklyn Nets at the close. This will happen in a hard-fought Western Conference playoff race.
But if Durant stays healthy — alongside Booker, Paul and Deandre Ayton — Phoenix will head into the postseason on the short list of favorites to win the championship.
Source : sports.yahoo.com