OKLAHOMA CITY • As Kevin Durant's return to the city where he had spent the previous eight years of his National Basketball Association career was winding down, he found himself with the ball 30 feet from the basket, and with Russell Westbrook - his co-star for every moment he spent here - standing right in front of him.
He rose up and fired away a silky-smooth jumper, just as he had so many times before on this court inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. And, like it had so many times before, the ball soared in a perfect arc directly from his hand and right through the net without touching anything else, as Durant stood and defiantly admired his work.
For the past eight years, such a shot would have been met with a deafening roar from the sell-out crowd. But on Saturday, with Durant wearing a blue-and-gold Warriors jersey, the shot was instead met with silence, the final dagger that finally muted the boos he was met with every time he touched the ball throughout the game.
And for as much as the hometown fans tried to give life and energy to their team, the result was the only one that ever seemed likely: Durant and the Warriors cruising to a comfortable 130-114 victory over the Thunder that once again reminded everyone in attendance how much things had changed since these franchises last met here in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals last May.
"It was a fun game. I actually thought it would be a little louder," Durant said. "I've been called worse in my life," he added of the catcalls after scoring 34 points and pulling down nine rebounds to help the Warriors stretch their league-leading record to 46-8.
In three games against his former team, Oklahoma City, Golden State forward Kevin Durant has scored 113 points, winning all of them.
"I've been counted out before I was even born. So ain't nothing new."
This game may have been largely uncompetitive, with Golden State flirting with a 20-point lead for the final three quarters, but it did not lack drama. That was particularly true after half-time.
Durant and Westbrook had a verbal exchange going into a timeout, with Westbrook calling "I'm coming" and Durant responding "You're going to lose."
Minutes later, Thunder forward Andre Roberson fouled Durant while going for a lay-up. That led to Durant exchanging more words and the two butting heads before being separated.
Durant said his exchange with Westbrook, like all trash talk, is just "a part of the game".
The crowd was expectedly anti-Durant. Fans revelled in "cupcake" T-shirts and costumes, a reference to Westbrook's Instagram dig at Durant that hinted his move to powerhouses Golden State was soft.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the environment recalled LeBron James' first game back in Cleveland in 2010 after he had departed for the Miami Heat.
In the end, though, the drama had little to do with the actual play on the court. The Warriors were too much for the Thunder, just as they had been in their two meetings this season in Oakland, California.
Westbrook had his latest brilliant stat line, finishing with 47 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, though he did have 11 turnovers.
But the Warriors left with a victory - just as they had in Game 6. The difference was that this time, Durant left victorious with them.
WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE