When the Phoenix Suns acquired 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant at the NBA’s trade deadline, the thought of being blown out in an elimination game for the second consecutive year was not on anyone’s mind.
In the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks smoked the Suns in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals, losing by 33 points to end their season.
On Thursday, Phoenix lost by 25 points to the Denver Nuggets, this time in Game 6 of the conference semi-finals, ending their season.
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“It was a bad feeling,” Durant said. “It was embarrassing. They came out and got us in the mouth and we couldn’t recover.”
The Suns trailed by 30 points at halftime – the same deficit they faced against the Mavericks last season – and heard boos from the home crowd.
“It was deflating to see them score like that and running down the floor getting easy buckets,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “That falls on my shoulders not having us ready to play at the highest level in the biggest game of the year.”
It was a wildly disappointing way to end the season for Phoenix, who gave up a massive haul in order to acquire Durant in February.
The Suns packaged Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, four first-round picks (2023, 2025, 2027, 2029), and a first-round pick swap in 2028 in order to obtain Durant.
Without the services of Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton due to injuries, the Nuggets jumped all over the Suns, essentially putting the game away in the second quarter.
Phoenix will now head into the offseason looking for the right players to surround Durant in order to bring the first NBA championship to the city.
“We just got to be better next year,” Durant said, per ESPN. “It’s hard right now to see what the future will hold for our team, but we got a good foundation, good infrastructure. We can build on and move on from this and learn from it and get better from it. I’m sure as the summer and offseason starts, we’ll figure that out a little bit more.”
The Nuggets will await the winner of the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report