SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Kevin Durant greeted many of the people he knew so well during three sensational seasons with the Warriors then hardly showed off his best shooting performance on a night the Golden State fans finally got to cheer him all these years later.
He still spoiled the home team’s opening night as the Phoenix Suns won the first matchup between the Pacific Division powerhouses.
“It’s always good to be recognized for the work you put in so it was exciting to see people I hadn’t seen in a while, some familiar faces,” Durant said. “I feel like the fan base here got nothing but love and respect for me as an individual player and as a person. That’s all I can ask for.”
Devin Booker scored a go-ahead layup with 4:51 remaining followed by a three-pointer on the way to 32 points in a 108-104 Phoenix victory on Tuesday night in a back-and-forth finish.
Stephen Curry scored 27 points to former shooting partner Durant’s 18 on a night the Warriors welcomed KD back for his first game in front of Bay Area fans since he left after the 2019 NBA Finals.
Curry scored seven straight points early in the third to pull the Warriors within 64-61 at the 8:21 mark and Phoenix called a timeout. Golden State opened the third on a 27-5 burst while the Suns went 2 for 14.
Jusuf Nurkic had 14 points and 14 rebounds with a driving layup in the closing seconds in his Suns debut.
Josh Okogie knocked down a baseline 3 with 1:09 to play and Eric Gordon connected from long range with 45 seconds left before Curry hit from deep.
Booker started and also had eight assists and six rebounds after coming into the game questionable with soreness in his left big toe. He made his first three shots and scored eight of the Suns’ initial 13 points.
Durant was greeted with warm applause from the fans in their first time seeing him since he led the Warriors to a pair of championships with two NBA Finals MVP awards and three straight Finals berths from 2017-19.
The Warriors played video highlights on the big screen during pregame introductions. Durant patted his heart and raised his arm in the air to acknowledge the love then shot 7 for 22 with 10 rebounds.
“A lot of good moments in the video. We was able to relive some of those memories real quick,” Durant said. “But it was good to come in here and get the season started off right with a W.”
Durant played at Chase Center in February 2021 with Brooklyn when no fans were allowed in the building because of the pandemic then was injured this past March when the Suns last visited.
Chris Paul contributed 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds in his Warriors debut facing his most recent team. Golden State acquired him on draft night from the Wizards – he never played in Washington – for Jordan Poole.
Paul missed his first six shots and all six of his three-point tries but had three early assists.
“He’s a rhythm player so he’s really good at getting you the ball in spots you want it,” guard Moses Moody said.
Suns: G Bradley Beal missed the game with low back tightness but first-year coach Frank Vogel is optimistic he will play Thursday at the Lakers. “He is trying to loosen up the back and he just isn’t ready yet,” Vogel said. … Phoenix had lost 18 of the previous 22 on Golden State’s home floor.
Warriors: The Warriors have lost only five of their last 12 openers and are 44-34 playing their first home game of a season. … F Draymond Green, out the entire preseason with a sprained left ankle, missed the season opener for the second time in his career after a sore foot kept him out for the pandemic-delayed 2020-21 season
Longtime Warriors and 49ers team chaplain Earl Smith returned to the arena after he missed the end of last season following an accident at All-Star weekend in Utah when an Uber driver started to go when he had only one leg in the vehicle.