Skip to content

Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant rebounds against Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (33) during the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball series Sunday, April 16, 2023, in Phoenix.  (AP Photo/Matt York)

Suns forward Kevin Durant tries to pass Clippers forward Nicolas Batum at the baseline during Game 1 of the teams’ playoff series Sunday night. The Clippers won 115-110. (Matt York/Associated Press)

The Clippers would not have won at home in their first round playoff opener against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.

Contains 15 offensive answers. His bench extended the Clippers’ lead to more than five minutes to start the second quarter and the final three minutes of the third quarter were two key plays in which he erased a seven-point lead by the Suns.

However, there’s no denying that one of the main reasons was the way Phoenix’s offense lost one of its greatest players on the court.

Suns superstar Kevin Durant went scoreless in the first quarter, exploded for 17 points in the second, then went scoreless again in the third. The fourth quarter offensive never came. Durant’s 17-foot jumper put Phoenix ahead 96-95 with 6 minutes, 50 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. He then took one more shot the rest of the game and finished with 15 total attempts, third on the team behind Devin Booker’s 19 and Deandre Ayton’s 16.

“He needs to get the ball in certain places [and] They’re doing a good job blocking the ball,” Suns coach Monty Williams told reporters Monday after the Clippers’ 115-110 win. Sometimes giving the ball to be able to bring the ball up the floor and create opportunities.”

Asked Monday what to expect from Durant in Game 2 on Tuesday night, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said “more aggressive.”

A day earlier, before the Game 1 tipoff, Lue called out concerns about Phoenix’s lack of continuity after playing just eight games with Durant since acquiring them in a trade in February. But on Monday, he seemed to admit, “It’s new for them, you know, they’ve only played nine games together.”

According to NBA tracking data, Kawhi guarded Leonard Durant by a career-high 29 possessions. Otherwise, the Clippers guarded Durant with a rotation of Eric Gordon, Russell Westbrook and Nicolas Batum, with Durant making one of six shots.

“We’re going to be flexible, so you have to be ready,” Gordon said.

And the Clippers will be ready for a more aggressive Durant in Game 2.

“We didn’t play the type of basketball we’re used to,” Williams said. “They had a lot to do with it.”

Controversy review

On Monday, the NBA’s league office began reviewing what happened when Westbrook and a Suns fan exchanged words midway through Game 1.

The moment, which was captured in a video that went viral on social media late Sunday, was captured from the steps of the court at Club Gila River, in the Grandstand Lounge at Footprint Center. It was used as a shortcut rather than an official way for players and coaches to enter the court.

The video doesn’t show what sparked the exchange, but Westbrook can be seen taunting the male fan and telling him to “watch your mouth” before walking onto the court. The two were separated by a member of the Clippers’ safety roster.

Eddie Gonzalez, podcast co-host with Durant; he tweeted Monday. He alleged that he was around the club at the time of the incident and that “a man called Russ ‘Westbrick'” strongly disliked the nickname Westbrick.

Lou Westbrook is on his way to solving the situation, but he’ll do a good job. He doesn’t lay hands on anybody or anything like that. Just be smart about it. People are going to say what they want to say.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.