NBA regular season

Kevin Durant makes winning debut for Suns over Hornets


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Kevin Durant makes winning debut for Suns over Hornets

SAME OLD. Suns forward Kevin Durant drives to the basket past Hornets guard Kelly Oubre Jr.

Brian Westerholt/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The same Kevin Durant shows up in Phoenix even after an injury layoff as the Suns roll to an easy win with their debuting superstar

Devin Booker poured in 37 points and Kevin Durant’s debut with the Phoenix Suns came with huge contributions in a 105-91 road victory against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night, March 1 (Thursday, March 2, Manila time).

Durant, who was in the starting lineup for his first action since January 8 with the Brooklyn Nets, racked up 23 points and 6 rebounds. He missed almost two months because of ligament strain in his right knee during which time he was traded to the Western Conference contenders.

Booker was 15-for-26 from the field. Deandre Ayton supplied 16 points and 16 rebounds.

While the Suns had an addition to the lineup, the Hornets had absences two nights after point guard LaMelo Ball was lost for the rest of the season because of a fracture in his right ankle. Starting forward PJ Washington was out again with a foot injury.

Charlotte’s season-best five-game winning streak came to an end despite Kelly Oubre Jr.’s big second half to finish with 26 points. Terry Rozier scored 20 points, Gordon Hayward added 15 points and Mark Williams had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Oubre rejoined the Charlotte starting lineup, but he went 1-for-11 from the field in the first half.

Durant’s first basket with the Suns came on a drive down the left side of the lane. He ended up 10-for-15 from the field in 27 minutes.

The Hornets closed within 69-61 in the third quarter before Booker’s three-point play and 3-point basket helped thwart that threat.

Phoenix led 79-73 after three quarters. Durant scored 9 points in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter as the Suns built their lead to 91-80.

Durant had 12 points by halftime, when the Suns led 57-41. He made 5-of-8 shots, including a pair of three-point baskets, in the first half. Ayton and Booker also scored 12 first-half points.

A 14-4 run in the second quarter helped the Suns run out to a 48-30 lead. That scoring run began with a pair of Durant jumpers. –

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