Kevin Durant can only be blunt to what happened as the Phoenix Suns were spanked en route to a Conference Semis exit by the dominant Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.
“It sucked. It was a bad feeling. It was embarrassing. They came out, hit us on the mouth, we couldn’t recover,” he said.
“You gotta give them credit for being a disciplined team.”
At one point in the first quarter, with 3:05 left, the scorecard for both teams was still 27-26. Suddenly, the Nuggets came out aggressive for a fight, capping off the frame with a massive 17-0 run behind the lead of both Nikola Jokic and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Starting with this sizzling skid, the Nuggets went on to completely steer themselves away against the Suns, posting an 81-point first-half score and a 30-point lead as the halftime buzzer sounded. And after another 24 minutes, with the jumbotron flashing a 125-100 Denver victory, the door ultimately opened itself for Phoenix to leave this year’s playoff arena.
In six gruelling games, Denver kicked out Phoenix and moved forward to the Conference Finals arena for the second time in four years.
Durant only chipped in 23 points in 8-of-19 shooting, but the time that the Nuggets were building up their 30-point margin in the second frame, he failed to respond with 2-of-11 field goals.
“We got down big. It happened pretty fast,” Durant said. “They were getting whatever they want on offensive side of the ball so it’s hard to get going on offense, it’s hard to get going as a team if you’re giving up that many points.”
Perceived by many as one of the top favorites to win it all, the road towards this year’s title officially ends for the Suns.
From pulling the trade deadline trigger to complete the blockbuster acquisition of Durant from the Brooklyn Nets, just to get eliminated after three months by an overwhelming Nuggets team, the franchise has towering questions that need to be answered as they still look to capture that ever elusive championship for next seasons to come.
But in the minds of the future hall of famer, the painful experience they felt from their second-round downfall is a good stepping stone for them to build further and orchestrate a responsive campaign next year.
“It’s hard right now to see what the future will hold for our team,” Durant responded when asked about his team’s outlook moving forward. “But we got a good foundation, good infrastructure we can build on and move on from this. Learn from it and get better from it.”
“It’s a hard question to answer right now. As summer and offseason starts to progress, we’ll figure that out a little bit more.”