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‘Just a mental thing’ Kevin Durant addresses recent shooting struggles

Phoenix Suns superstar Kevin Durant is in the midst of a rare cold spell from 3-point range over the last few games.

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Since the All-Star break, the Suns have gone 1-2, and Durant has shot 5-for-23 (21.7%) from 3-point range in these games, despite shooting 42.3% from deep this season.

At one point, Durant was top-3 in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage, but over his last eight games, Durant has gone a staggering 13-for-50 (26%) from deep. Before this, he was shooting 100-for-217 (46.1%) on the season.

“It’s just a mental thing, more than anything,” Durant said after practice yesterday. “When you take bad 3s, I think that’s what got me the last few games. If you take away the three point percentage, I’m shooting a high percentage inside the line. A lot of times when I’m not shooting well, it’s that I’m rushing 3s and trying to shoot heat checks.”

To Durant’s point, he is shooting 80-for-163 (49.1%) over the last eight games. This means he’s shooting 59% inside the arc in this stretch.

Tonight, the Suns (34-24) host the Houston Rockets (25-33), looking to avenge last Friday’s 114-110 loss in Houston. Durant went 1-for-7 from 3 in this last contest, but still finished with 28 points on 10-of-22 shooting, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

“I think I was 10-for-19 in the Houston game, then I shot two bad, deep 3s just like as soon as I caught it,” Durant said. “I was putting pressure on the rim, I should have put more pressure on the rim. And then maybe that third 3 would have went down.

“It just is a mental thing, a shot selection thing. I can work on my shot all day, but if I take horrible shots over three people, they not gonna go in. It’s about how I approach the game more so than like, at this point in my career, just getting extra work in. I know how to shoot the ball already.”

Everyone that has been around Durant usually first points to how he works in practice, always going at real-game speed.

“Since I was eight, nine years old, I’ve been growing in my routine and as a player,” Durant said. “I’ve always valued practicing. My godfather, who taught me how to play the game just instilled that into my mom and my dad, too. It’s cliche, but practice makes perfect, and I always tried to take that mentality all the time.”

See Durant’s workout from Tuesday for example:

Coach Frank Vogel did not agree with Durant’ assessment of bad shots.

“For Kevin Durant, one that gets blocked, that’s a bad 3,” Vogel said, smiling, yesterday. “Other than that, there’s no such thing.”

For a Phoenix team featuring so many historically good 3-point shooters, the Suns have attempted and made less 3s than their opponent on the year. Phoenix averages 11.9 makes on 31.6 attempts per game, while its opponent cashes in on 13.2 3s per game on 35.9 attempts.

“We don’t want terrible 3s,” Vogel said. “We want good shots, but (Durant’s) got a green light.”

Tonight’s game against the Rockets tips off just after 7 p.m. MST.

Preview: Suns look for revenge, to protect homecourt vs. Rockets

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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