Superstar forward Kevin Durant had a successful debut with the Suns on Wednesday, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The 34-year-old had been out of action since January 8 after sustaining a right MCL sprain, but he contributed 23 points (on 10-of-15 shooting), six rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 27 minutes during Phoenix’s 105-91 victory in Charlotte.
“I feel like I fit in pretty well. Everybody out there was trying to make me as comfortable as possible,” Durant said. “I just got to keep grinding, man, and this jersey on me will look normal as games go on.”
Durant had never been traded in the middle of a season prior to being sent to Phoenix from Brooklyn last month, and he admitted he was nervous about his first game in Suns uniform.
“New environment, new situation, new teammates, I mean I always feel I got to prove myself to my teammates and my coaches every single day no matter what I’ve done in the league,” Durant said, per Windhorst. “So I feel like there’s pressure to be who I am every day.”
Here’s more from the Pacific:
- Suns head coach Monty Williams said after the game that Durant will be on a precautionary minutes restriction for “at least the next week,” as Shane Young of Forbes Sports relays (via Twitter). Williams was noncommittal about Durant’s status for Friday’s game in Chicago, Young adds.
- Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell continues to be hampered by a sprained right ankle. He told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that he will miss Friday’s game versus Minnesota, his fourth consecutive absence (Twitter link). When asked if he could potentially play Sunday against Golden State, Russell wasn’t sure. “We’ll see once we get through Friday,” he said.
- Wolves guard Austin Rivers believes Russell Westbrook is a “natural fit” with the Clippers, according to Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints.com. “He starts, that’s exactly what he wanted to be in that situation,” Rivers said before Tuesday’s matchup with the Clippers. “The pressure’s not on him to close games. They got two closers, so he gets to go play and just kinda be him and not have to worry about all the pressure. I think it’s a great fit, honestly.” Rivers, who played with Westbrook in Houston a few years ago, explained that the Clippers’ shooting should give Westbrook more room to drive and make plays. Westbrook has put up strong individual numbers with the Clippers, averaging 16.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 9.3 APG (4.3 TO) and 2.3 SPG on .529/.444/1.000 shooting, but the team is 0-3 with him in the lineup thus far, Azarly notes.