The Phoenix Suns star Forward Kevin Durant made his home debut after three weeks of delay because of a tweaked ankle in warmups, and the building was buzzing with anticipation of him actually playing a game in front of the home crowd.
The pregame warmup session KD does every game went well as the crowd watched with a “fingers crossed” mentality, Durant made his way through autograph signing with fans after his workout and the fans knew this time they would actually get no setbacks to seeing their new acquired superstar play in Footprint Center.
Although Kevin didn’t have the type of game he may have envisioned, his presence alone changed the way the building atmosphere felt and also changed the enthusiasm of the entire team being whole after a grueling year of fighting injuries.
The Minnesota Timberwolves coming in on a hot four-game win streak trying to help spoil the highly anticipated Durant, the Wolves didn’t stop KD as much as KD stopped himself.
Kevin Durant spoke after the game in his first home post-game press conference, and during that session, KD mentioned that nerves had a lot to do with his slow start.
“Yeah, I was just saying that to the guys in the locker room; it was hard for me to get sleep today, hard for me to stop thinking about the game. Sometimes you can want it too bad, and you come out there and start rushing, being uncharacteristic. Glad I am back, glad I am in the zone of playing again, being around the guys, being one of the guys again. Just keep building from here.”
The Suns get the 107-100 win and get their third straight win and holding on to the fourth seed in the playoff race, in the process the 3-point shooting took a dive as they only shot 34% making 12 of 35 and Monty still trying to get his rotation perfect for the Playoffs.
T.J. Warren and Terrence Ross did not shoot the ball very well only combining for a 5 of 13 shooting night and only making one three-pointer between them(1-5), while on the bench other sharpshooters Landry Shamet and Damien Lee did not play because of coaches decision.
Shooting will be on-and-off on a nightly basis, and maybe Monty will have to just play the guy that has the hot hand, or pull the guys that do not, but overall he needs to find a lineup that will have them playoff ready.
Devin Booker lead all scores with 29 and Kevin only chipped in with 16 points and 8 rebounds, and only had 1 field goal at the half and because of that, changed his shoes in the locker room to help change his fortunes on the court.
Durant and his teammates looked a little out of sorts early in the game for the entire first half, and on a few possessions, we saw Durant in the corner waving his arms and no pass came his way.
The floor was spread out and the team got lots of open looks because of the presence of KD, so even in a bad shooting game he makes a difference to this team and how they have to be guarded on the defensive end.
There is no timetable for chemistry and with only 6 games remaining the question is, will that be enough time to get that cohesiveness it takes to make a long playoff run.
The Timberwolves got up by as many as 10 in the third quarter and it took a personal 7-point run by Cam Payne alone to get the Suns back in control of the game and ultimately get the win.
Kevin Durant had a better second half as he knocked down two big 3’s after struggling from the field, he finished the game in the crutch time minutes and helped his team pull out the victory and may have gained a better shooting rhythm for the next game on Friday.
The star forward was limited to playing only played 28 minutes, as it look like he was getting his conditioning and timing down as he moved pretty well throughout the game.
The strategic move of the Suns to bring KD back on a night where the atmosphere of his debut may have been a big distraction was a good move because it was more of a warmup game for a bigger contest coming up Friday against the number one team in the West the Denver Nuggets.
I have a feeling we will see a very different KD from a scoring standpoint that night.