OAKLAND -- Kevin Durant, Thunder Stopper? With a second consecutive magnificent performance in decisive wins over his former Oklahoma City teammates, Durant may be adding a nickname.
Durant on Wednesday night posted his first 40-point game as a Warrior, carrying them to a 121-100 win over the Thunder at Oracle Arena.
He has scored 79 points in two games against OKC, taking only 40 shots to ring up such an impressive total. He was 13-of-16 Wednesday night and 15-of-24 in scoring 39 points in a 122-96 win on Nov. 3 at Oracle.
Though Durant downplayed his production, his coach and teammates were not surprised he has been so good against the team with which he spent nine seasons.
“It’s still kind of fresh, but we can’t deny the history of him with OKC,” Stephen Curry said.
“Every player in the NBA wants to play well against his old team,” coach Steve Kerr said. “For most guys, you feel that extra juice when you play against a team that you played on.”
Durant not only finished with a season-high point total but also added a team-best 12 rebounds, along with four assists and three blocks. He practically stamped his signature on the game.
“My teammates are doing a good job of freeing me up,” said Durant, who drilled 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. “I put the work in and prepared myself for every game. I just happened to knock them down.”
It’s not just that Durant was facing his former team, though. He was, once again, on opposite sides from longtime teammate and erstwhile friend Russell Westbrook. The two have not had much to say to each other since Durant’s decision last July to leave OKC and sign with the Warriors.
Little changed Wednesday night, though the two had a brief exchange in the second half, as Durant headed to the line to shoot a pair of free throws.
Asked if the two have talked, Westbrook said, “Nah,” despite the brief dialogue.
Durant carefully avoided saying anything remotely inflammatory about Westbrook or any of his former teammates.
“It’s good to see everybody,” he said. “Once the ball is tipped, you’re just playing. You’re just hooping. It’s as simple as that. But it’s definitely good to see everybody.”
Durant’s lone lowlight came when he blew a dunk with 1:45 left in the first half, taking flight about 10 feet from the basket and slamming the ball off the back of the rim and nearly to halfcourt.
“I thought I made it,” Durant said, “and then I heard the crowd.
“I was kind of upset. I tried to dunk it too hard, I think. I might have jumped from a little too far out. As I was close to the rim, I felt myself coming down a little earlier than usual.
“But, yeah, I should have made that one. That would have brought the crowd to its feet. But, hopefully, I’ll get another opportunity.”
The crowd was on its feet plenty, as was the case during Durant’s previous display against OKC. The Thunder won’t be back to Oakland this season.
Durant will have another chance to go after his former team and burnish his credentials as a Thunder Stopper when the teams meet on Feb. 11 in Oklahoma City.