(Photo by Torrey Purey)
By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY – When the dust settled from Kevin Durant being back in town, the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder were going to have to play an actual game.
While Thunder fans created a circus-like atmosphere when loud boos and imaginative signs, when it was time to play, Oklahoma City couldn’t keep up and Golden State rolled to 130-114 win on Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant was the focal point of jeers, chants and spirited back and forths with fans and former teammates. But a defiant Durant showed he was ready for it all.
“I’ve been called worse in my life,” Durant said. “I’ve been counted out before I was even born. So ain’t nothing new.”
Durant scored 34 points to lead Golden State. He made 12 of 21 shots from the field to go with nine rebounds in his first game back since he left the Thunder as a free agent after last season.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each scored 26 points as the Warriors improved to 46-8 in the playoff-style atmosphere.
“This is very, very similar to what we have experienced in the playoffs, coming to the building specifically,” Curry said. “It wasn’t anything new to the guys who have been in this locker room before and played a meaningful game. I think that showed tonight.”
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 47 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. He also had 11 turnovers.
Victor Oladipo scored 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field for the Thunder. Steven Adams posted 13 points but was held to three rebounds as Oklahoma City dropped to 31-23.
“We just need to be a step ahead,” Westbrook said. “We can’t always play from behind. Because with a good team, you play behind they make you pay for it. They are a good team.”
With the Warriors leading by 12 in the fourth quarter, Thompson drilled a 3-pointer to push the advantage to 15. Westbrook found Andre Robertson open in the paint for a dunk before Durant drove the middle and threw down his own slam.
Westbrook was fouled by Durant on a fast break and made both free throws to close deficit to 115-102. Thompson was fouled by Westbrook and he hit three free throws.
Durant drained a jumper, then nailed a 28-footer to give Golden State a 123-104 lead with 3:39 left. That was enough for the Warriors to cruise the rest of the way.
In three games against his former team, Durant has scored 113 points and Golden State won all of them.
From the start, the Warriors moved the ball around the perimeter and found open 3-pointers for Curry and Thompson while JaVale McGee picked up garbage points in the paint.
Durant had a slow start but ended up with 15 points in the first half.
Westbrook, on the other hand, had his high and low points. While he racked 21 points by halftime, he also accounted for seven turnovers as the Thunder trailed 73-50.
The most riveting part of the game came late in the third quarter. First, Durant and Westbrook had a verbal exchange heading into a timeout.
With Westbrook yelling “I’m coming” and Durant responding back with “You’re going to lose,” the intensity jumped up a notch.
A couple of minutes later, Roberson fouled Durant while going for a layup. That led to Durant exchanging more words and the two butting heads before being separated.
“I think they are competing,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I couldn’t all that was being said or that was going on there. But to me it was just part of the game. Guys are kind of standing up and just competing.”
The action worked 18,000 fans into frenzy. But when the quarter ended, Golden State was still in complete control 105-88.
“It was a fun game,” Durant said. “I actually thought it would be a little louder. To be on the other side side of it, to be able to calm all these guys down as they boo you is kind of fun. I’ve got to embrace it. that’s all I can do. And keep playing my game.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Writer with Eyeamtruth.com