Kevin Durant scores 23 points in his Phoenix Suns debut as he helps his new team break the Charlotte Hornets’ five-game winning streak… after Mercury shared a heartwarming video of him and Brittney Griner embracing
Kevin Durant scored 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting in his Suns debut as he helped Phoenix snap the Charlotte Hornets’ five-game winning streak with a wire-to-wire 105-91 win.
The appearance came after the franchise’s WNBA team, Phoenix Mercury, shared a heartwarming video of him hooking up with their new signing Brittney Griner.
The team shared footage of the two stars embracing on the track with the caption, “It’s a new dawn in the desert.”
Durant, acquired on Feb. 9 in a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets, showed no lingering effects from a sprained right knee that kept him out of action for more than seven weeks Wednesday night.
The 34-year-old star fit in seamlessly with his new club, also grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots in 27 minutes.
Kevin Durant scored 23 points on his highly anticipated debut for the Phoenix Suns Wednesday
Phoenix Mercury shared a clip of Durant hooking up with Brittney Griner earlier today
Durant made two 3s, a flurry of mid-range jumpers and showed he still has the burst to get to the hole with a left-handed layup for his first basket with the Suns.
He also boosted the defense by blocking Hornets rookie center Mark Williams twice in the opening five minutes.
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.
Phoenix (34-29) entered the game in fourth place in the Western Conference standings, but could be poised for a strong finish with Durant anchoring what could potentially be an explosive attack.
The Hornets played without LaMelo Ball, who underwent season-ending surgery on Wednesday to repair a fracture in his right ankle. Kelly Oubre Jr. picked up the deficit 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 going into the fourth quarter behind former Sun Oubre, who got the start with Ball out.
But Durant, who had played just 19 minutes in the first three quarters, returned to the starting line in the fourth quarter and began to take over.
Durant celebrates after scoring in the first half of the Suns’ wire-to-wire 105-91 win
Devin Booker scored 37 points as the Suns broke the Charlotte Hornets winning streak
He hit a 17-footer off a fake ball and drew an offense 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 take the lead to 12 and finishing with nine points in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Griner hasn’t played for the Mercury since 2021, when she led Phoenix to the WNBA Finals before losing to the Chicago Sky.
Regardless, the WNBA star was nearly unstoppable that season, averaging 20.5 points, 1.9 blocks, 2.7 assists and career-highs with 9.5 rebounds per game.
The former Baylor star was released from a Russian penal colony in December after being taken over in a US-Russian prisoner exchange from convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Griner, who played professionally in Russia since 2014, was returning to the country in February when she was stopped at Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, according to authorities.
Finally, in August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. A subsequent appeal was rejected in October.
She was assigned to a penal colony in Mordovia, a region known for its brutal prison system, until President Biden’s administration was able to release her earlier this month. She was detained in Russia for 10 months.
Griner completed her return to Phoenix Mercury last week as another star joined the franchise