Durant takes charge early on

Warrior gets 39pts against his old team to help new side settle after their wobbly start

OAKLAND (California) • The Golden State Warriors are starting to resemble their record-breaking 2015-16 edition.

Even if there is one big reason they do not look the same.

Newcomer Kevin Durant overwhelmed his former mates with a long-range shooting exhibition on Thursday, scoring 39 points as the Warriors earned a 122-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in a rematch of last year's thrilling National Basketball Association (NBA) Western Conference finals.

The win was the Warriors' second in a row over a stubborn 2016 play-off opponent after the club staggered out of the gate with a loss to the San Antonio Spurs and narrow wins over the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns.

Golden State routed the Trail Blazers in Portland on Tuesday.

"The last two games, I think we put together a full game," Durant said. "Defensively, we covered each other. We're getting easy shots. Twenty-seven assists against a (Thunder) team that switched all night is pretty good."

Kevin Durant going up to dunk the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena. He top-scored with 39 points against his former team-mates, including seven three-pointers as the Warriors won 122-96.
Kevin Durant going up to dunk the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena. He top-scored with 39 points against his former team-mates, including seven three-pointers as the Warriors won 122-96. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Durant connected on seven of 11 three-point attempts en route to a season-best point total, helping the Warriors (4-1) find the perimeter magic that for the most part was lacking, while the club accumulated just the NBA's 22nd-best three- point percentage during the four games.

"I think the beauty of what Kevin does is he can kind of sense what's needed in the game and take over any game," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "He's perfectly content to assess the situation and dominate when he needs to. That's a special quality in a superstar."

Russell Westbrook countered with 20 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for the Thunder, who took the court undefeated in four games but quickly fell victim to the wear and tear of a tough 85-83 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

"We had some moments here and there," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "For our guys on the back-to-back, Clippers and this game... I think two games like that, there's a lot we can take from."

While the Thunder were enduring their first back-to-back sequence of the season, the Warriors were beginning their first. They travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers this morning (Singapore time).

Durant, who averaged 27.4 points over nine seasons to begin his NBA career with Oklahoma City before leaving as a free agent last summer, dominated the first meeting since the July move from the very first minute.

The plan was to "ease" Durant into the game, Kerr insisted.

"I didn't want to call plays for him to force the issue," the coach said. "The first play that we called, Draymond (Green) decided to throw it to KD. It was supposed to be a fake hand-off... and Draymond just handed it to KD, and KD pulled up and made the three. What do I know?"

REUTERS

NEW YORK V CHICAGO

Singtel TV Ch110, 8am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2016, with the headline 'Durant takes charge early on'. Print Edition | Subscribe