The Phoenix Suns’ 107-100 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night had already decided the tone of Kevin Durant’s eagerly anticipated home debut.
Durant was relieved to have made it through pregame warmups on Wednesday night after sustaining a difficult-to-believe left ankle injury when he tumbled before a meeting against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 8. With a message for the waiting staff, he joyfully ran into the Suns’ locker room and into the team’s training facility.
He said with a mixture of satisfaction and relief, “We got through that s—!”
After seeing Durant have an uncommon shooting performance, going only 5-for-18 from the field while scoring 16 points in just 29 minutes, it is possible to say the same. After it was done, Durant admitted to having some nervousness before playing at home for the first time in Phoenix.
I had a difficult time falling asleep today, Durant said. I’m glad I’m back. I’m glad I’m into the zone of playing again and being around the guys and being one of the guys again. Just keep building from here. Sometimes you can want it too badly, and you come out and play like you start rushing and being uncharacteristic.
The rust didn’t appear to bother Durant’s coach or teammates as he struggled to make any of his first six field goal attempts and didn’t make his first field goal until 5:23 remained in the second quarter. Simply said, they were relieved to see him back on the ground.
Devin Booker of the Suns remarked, “The entire city has been waiting on this.” “I’m happy it resulted in a win,” the fan said. “It’s a really special night and a big night in the history of the organisation.”
Booker and seasoned guard Chris Paul spoke about the opportunities that Durant gave the rest of the team by just being on the court. They have no doubt that Durant, who reported that his ankle “felt great,” will regain his rhythm quickly, which is excellent news for the Suns club, who are now 41-35 and fourth in the Western Conference standings with only six regular-season games remaining.
Suns coach Monty Williams said, “You see at the shooting stats and you’re like, ‘That’s not Kevin. “I thought he battled on both ends. I think his cardio’s got to get back to the level where he wants it. Once he gets that, we’ll see the Kevin that we all know,” said Kevin after his fourth game in how long.
When Miami Heat player Jimmy Butler fell into Durant’s knee in early January when he was still a member of the Brooklyn Nets, Durant strained his right MCL and was out for more than a month. While he waited for his ankle to recover, he missed almost another month of work. Despite the setbacks, he laughed at the notion that the injury bug had cursed him due to the unpredictability of his most recent wounds.
Durant said with a smirk, “Look at my life—someone cursed me.”I learned how to conquer different parts of the game, and rehab is one of them. I just try to do my best in that and come back and pick up where I left off. My life looks pretty good, but you can’t say that, man. When I leave this arena, my life look pretty good. But it’s just part of the game. It is what it is. It’s unfortunate.
Williams and his new teammates were able to pick up on some of the nerves Durant was attempting to shake during the game.
“If you watch him in practise and his warmups, his workouts, he doesn’t miss a lot of shots. He’s a rare breed. He’s one of the few guys that feels like he should make every single shot. My job is to encourage him when he doesn’t because there’s more to his game than offense, even though he’s one of the greatest offensive players you’ve ever seen. I’m sure he was [jittery], because he wants to make every shot.”
The Suns are certain that their finest days are still ahead of them now that Durant is back in the fold. The team is aware that Durant has the potential to elevate them this season, and Wednesday’s game served as just another example of how much more impressive they can be without the future Hall of Famer.
Being able to count on Durant, Booker added, “is confidence for everyone.” The respect for what he’s done for this game and what he’s done for me personally is there, and you just want to perform. He’s one of the best to ever do it. “Even when he wasn’t playing, he was just on the bench, I feel like a lot of us, minus CP, grew up watching him most of our lives.”