Kevin Durant says Mavs clash, Kyrie Irving meeting ‘just another game’


CHICAGO — Kevin Durant is still getting adjusted to his new life as a member of the Phoenix Suns after two games, but a reunion with his former teammate Kyrie Irving is upcoming on the NBA calendar.

Durant and the Suns will travel to Dallas for a matchup against Irving and the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday afternoon. And while Durant acknowledged this game will be circled on the calendar for many, he downplayed feeling anything extra heading into his first matchup against his former teammate.

“Just another game,” Durant said after Friday’s 125-104 victory against the Chicago Bulls. “I understand the entertainment aspect and a lot of people on the outside got the game circled on their calendar, but for both teams, just regularly scheduled programming. Getting back to work and seeing how you can get better as a unit.”

Durant and Irving signed together with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019 before both were traded prior to last month’s trade deadline. Irving requested a trade after talks for a new contract stalled with Brooklyn and Durant was traded to Phoenix the following week, ending their four-year parternship as teammates.

Irving scored 40 on Thursday while Luka Doncic added 42 points and 12 assists to lead Dallas to a victory, the Mavs’ second win in the pair’s six games together.

Durant, playing in just his second game since Jan. 8 after recovering from an MCL injury, shot 7 of 10 from the field for 20 points on Friday. The Suns improved to 2-0 with Durant on the floor this season and after the game he insisted he was focused on improving chemistry with his new teammates rather than focused on the upcoming matchup against Irving.

“We’ve played against each other before, competed against each other before,” Durant said. “But it’s all about [the Suns]. I’m sure they feel the same way. It’s about putting your best foot forward.”

So far, the Suns have done just that in the short time since Durant has been active.

Phoenix was +26 in the 20 minutes Durant and Suns star Devin Booker shared the floor together on Friday, the best of any Suns duo, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. The Suns went 23-37 from the floor (62%), 12-of-20 from 3 and assisted on 16 of their 23 baskets during that stretch.

“Most impressive part, is how he just let’s the game come to him,” said Booker, who finished with a game-high 35 points. “Much like the carrier he is, how dynamic he is on both ends of the ball, he still just catches it in the flow of the game and let’s it come to him and makes the right play for his teammates.”

Durant is still rounding his way back to form after being sidelined with the injury, but he did a double take and got excited when examining the postgame box score following Friday’s game and seeing that he played 31 minutes.

“It’s good to get some minutes,” Durant said. “I think that’s the best way to get back in the swing of things, is playing. “I feel good. Still figuring out the offense and how my team needs me to be effective on both ends. I think I’m getting better with each game.”


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