Los Angeles: Golden State forward Kevin Durant dropped 39 points on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday to lead the Warriors to an emphatic 122-96 victory over his former NBA team.
Durant shocked many when he opted to join the Warriors as a free agent after Golden State ousted the Thunder in last season's Western Conference finals.
Durant downplayed the idea that there was extra emotion in the contest against the Thunder and former teammate Russell Westbrook.
But he looked plenty fired up in connecting on seven three-point attempts, helping the Warriors to their fourth win in a row after a season-opening loss to San Antonio.
Golden State handed the Thunder their first defeat of the young season.
Westbrook scored 20 points with 10 assists and six rebounds for the Thunder, who were coming off a tough 85-83 victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
"We just wanted to come out here and play a good brand of basketball," Durant said. "We wanted to defend, get out in front ... we get a lot of points up and get stops on the defensive end, we're pretty good, so it's a good night for us."
Durant, who averaged 27.4 points over nine seasons in Oklahoma City before departing as a free agent, was a force from the opening tip off on Thursday.
He drained a three-pointer on Golden State's first possession and had 13 points in the first period to help the Warriors battle back from an early deficit.
Klay Thompson hit a three-pointer and Stephen Curry, twice fouled on three-point attempts, connected on five of six free throws as the Warriors used a 14-4 spurt to go up 52-38 in the second quarter.
Three more three-pointers from Durant helped swell the advantage to 68-43 at halftime.
The Warriors shot 51.1 percent overall. Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia pulled down 10 rebounds apiece for Golden State.
Victor Oladipo made four three-pointers and led the Thunder with 21 points. Rookie Domantas Sabonis added 13 and Steven Adams 11.
Westbrook was booed lustily by Golden State fans when the teams were introduced. Meanwhile, social media pundits breathlessly wondered if his decision to wear a photographer's bib when arriving at the arena was a dig at Durant -- who enjoys photography as a hobby.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he thought Durant had been portrayed unfairly as denigrating his former team in some pre-season comments.
"He said something about, he loves his new teammates," Kerr said. "That was somehow construed that he didn't love his old teammates.
"It's almost like he has to qualify everything he says by making sure he doesn't insinuate anything."
Asked if he was relieved to have the much anticipated first meeting with Westbrook and the Thunder out of the way, Durant insisted he wasn't focused on the reunion.
"I'm worrying about tomorrow we play the Lakers, trying to finish off this back-to-back," he said. "Keep trying to get better, man, that's all I'm worried about."
LeBron James poured in a season-high 30 points on Thursday as the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers remained unbeaten with a 128-122 victory over the Boston Celtics.
James scored 20 of his points in the third period and added 12 assists for the Cavaliers, who have won the first five games of the season for the first time since the 1976-77 campaign, when they started 8-0.
James has started a season 5-0 just once before, when he was with the Miami Heat in 2011-12 -- the season he won the first of his three NBA titles.
James' 30 points left him tantalizingly close to another career milestone. With two more points he'll move past Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) into 10th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Kevin Love scored a season-high 26 points and Kyrie Irving added 23 for Cleveland, who let a double-digit lead evaporate before closing out the contest.
"We want to continue to get better," James said. "When we get up on teams we've got to figure out how to continue to just push the lead up or just keep it where it is and not allow teams to get back into the game."
Isaiah Thomas scored a season-high 30 points and Avery Bradley had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the shorthanded Celtics.
Boston, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, were without Al Horford, who is subject to the league's concussion protocol after taking a blow to the head this week. Jae Crowder was missing with a sprained ankle sustained in Wednesday's victory at Chicago.
James played the role of facilitator in the first half, handing out 13 assists as the Cavs built an 18-point lead.
After a Celtics surge he went on the attack in the third quarter as the Cavaliers stretched their lead to as many as 20 before Boston trimmed the deficit to single digits in the fourth.
"This is the best I've seen the Cavs play in November," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "Everybody is trying to figure themselves out to be the best version of themselves, but they're way ahead of where they were the last two years, in my opinion. And (James) looks great. I mean, they're really good."
Irving said the stability of the Cavaliers team meant they haven't had a lot of adjusting to do early in the season.
"We're three years in with one another," Irving said. "We know what to expect.
"We have something that we're building here that's very special. And the trust and responsibility and everything that we depend on from one another is already there. It's not like we had to come in training camp and had to figure things out right away.
"For us, it's about staying healthy and maintaining our edge on other teams."
First Published On : Nov 4, 2016 12:16 IST