Durant debut gives Suns a potent look in NBA

Australian centre Jock Landale got a close up view as new teammate Kevin Durant made a seamless debut for Phoenix, setting the scene for a potent finish to the NBA season.

Thirteen-time All-Star Durant showed no lingering effects from a sprained knee that kept him out of action for more than seven weeks as he scored 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, the Suns claiming a wire-to-wire 105-91 road victory over Charlotte on Wednesday.

Devin Booker scored 37 points and Deandre Ayton had 16 points and 16 rebounds in the Suns' seventh victory in 10 games while gun point guard Chris Paul added 11 assists.

Acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets on February 9, the 34-year-old Durant also grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots in his 27 minutes on court.

Boomers centre Landale came off the bench and had six points, three rebounds and two assists in his 15 minutes.

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 has the potential to be an explosive offense.

"I've played in almost a thousand basketball games, but today I was nervous," Durant said. "It's a new team, new group, and I want to play hard for them and be coachable. So, I was thinking about all that today.

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

Like Durant's previous stops in Seattle, Oklahoma City, Golden State and Brooklyn, the expectations are high - and there is a different level of excitement with his arrival.

"You feel it," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "You feel it at the (team) hotel when people are lined up outside. You feel it in the gym. ... Yeah, I feel it. I learned a long time ago that pressure and expectations are a privilege and you have to embrace those things because that is where the good stuff is."

The Hornets were without LaMelo Ball, who underwent season-ending surgery on Wednesday to repair a fracture in his right ankle.

In Milwaukee, Australian veteran Joe Ingles came off the bench to supply 16 points as his NBA-leading Bucks crushed the Orlando Magic 139-117 to improve their season record to 44-17.

Giannis Antetokounmpo top-scored for Milwaukee with 31 points and had plenty of help as Jrue Holiday had 23 points and nine assists and Brook Lopez 18 points.

In Boston, Jayson Tatum scored 18 points in a pivotal third quarter and finished with 41 points as the Celtics held on to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-113 in a clash of two other Eastern Conference hotshots.

In Oklahoma City, Australian Josh Giddey had 22 points for the Thunder but could not prevent a 123-117 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Thunder (28-33) were without chief strike weapon Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (abdominal strain).

In New York, Jalen Brunson scored 39 points to lead the surging New York Knicks (37-27) to a crushing 142-118 win over the Brooklyn Nets, opening a two-game lead over the slumping Nets for the No.5 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Nets were without Australian Ben Simmons, who was again sidelined by a knee complaint.

In Miami, the Philadelphia 76ers (40-21) overcame the injury absence of AllStar centre Joel Embiid (foot) to beat the Heat 119-96.