NBA

Durant felt he 'fit in pretty well' in winning Suns debut despite nerves

By Sports Desk March 02, 2023

Kevin Durant felt he "fit in pretty well" during an impressive Phoenix Suns debut against the Charlotte Hornets but still feels under pressure to prove himself.

Durant scored 23 points in his first appearance for the Suns in a 105-91 win over the Hornets on Wednesday following his blockbuster trade from the Brooklyn Nets last month.

Returning to the court after recovering from a knee injury that had kept him out since January 8, the 13-time NBA All-Star was 10-of-15 shooting and racked up his points haul in just 27 minutes.

Devin Booker scored 37 points, claimed six rebounds and provided seven assists as Phoenix – fourth in the Western Conference – snapped the Hornets' five-game winning streak to go 34-29 for the season.

Durant said: "I feel like I fit in pretty well, everybody out there was trying to make me as comfortable as possible.

"I just got to keep grinding, man, and this jersey on me will look normal as games go on."

Despite all he has achieved over the years, Durant was nervous prior to his Suns bow.

He added: "New environment, new situation, new team-mates, I mean I always feel I got to prove myself to my team-mates and my coaches every single day no matter what I've done in the league. So I feel like there's pressure to be who I am every day."

Booker was pinching himself over being on the same side as Durant.

He said: "This is one of those moments that doesn't really feel real. I mean, it's just every time he shoots the ball, it's just so effortless.

"You can see defenders trying their hardest to contest or fight over a screen and he just looks unbothered, unfazed."

Suns head coach Monty Williams wants Durant to focus on playing to the best of his ability rather than feel he must be a leader.

"I think there's too many players in the NBA that get too much pressure to lead," Williams said. "I just don’t think it's necessary. It’s my job to lead.

"The players do it in spots, but that's the one thing I told him, I said, 'I'm not looking for you to lead. We just want you to be yourself and hoop,' and I think that's where he's the most free to be himself."

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