The finish left something to be desired.
Durant scored 28 points in his first game back from the knee injury and Russell Westbrook added 19 points and 13 assists, but the Thunder nearly squandered a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter before beating the Golden State Warriors 114-109 on Sunday night.
"I think we started the fourth quarter off kind of bad - a couple turnovers and easy baskets for them -- and that's kind of contagious. We've got to do a better job of if we're up by a lot, not be too relaxed," said Durant, the NBA's scoring leader at 27.3 points per game.
"We're not that good yet to be relaxed when we have big leads. We've got to keep fighting for 48 minutes. It's a lesson learned for us."
Stephen Curry scored a season-high 39 points and ignited the Warriors' rally that cut the deficit to three in the final minute.
Oklahoma City made its first 29 free throws before Durant and Westbrook missed three in the final 2½ minutes to let Golden State stick around. Monta Ellis nailed a 3-pointer from the left side to get the Warriors to 110-107 with 23.7 seconds left, but Jeff Green and Durant hit two foul shots apiece to seal it.
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Durant missed the previous two games with a sprained left knee, with Oklahoma City beating New Jersey in triple overtime and losing at Toronto.
"He's the No. 1 scorer in the league, and you've got to pay attention to him," Westbrook said. "If you don't, then you're in trouble."
Ellis finished with 29 points and Dorell Wright had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Golden State.
Serge Ibaka had 19 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter and Green added 17 for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder scored the first eight points of the game and charged out to an 18-2 lead when Durant corralled a wayward alley-oop pass with his right hand and was able to control it for a two-handed jam, then followed it with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Durant said the alley-oop play "tested my knee out early on and it felt good."
He also finished off a 10-0 run in the second quarter with a 17-foot jumper from the right wing as Oklahoma City extended its lead to 23 at 50-27 with 5:19 left before halftime.
"I think we did a great job of starting the game off, setting the tone early on, making them know that we're going to play defense and we're going to go down and get some easy baskets," Durant said.
The Warriors started climbing back, though, with Curry hitting three jumpers and a 3-pointer during a 13-2 response, and Golden State cut it to 54-42 after Reggie Williams' jumper from the free-throw line at the halftime buzzer.
The Thunder were 20 for 20 on free throws in the third quarter, their most makes in a quarter since moving to Oklahoma City in 2008, while doubling their lead to 90-70.
"It's tough, especially on the road, when you're trying to claw your way back and they're getting easy buckets at the free throw line," Curry said. "It's tough to win like that."
Much of the Thunder's seventh sellout crowd of the season had already exited before the Warriors made their final charge. Curry made a 3-pointer, a three-point play and a jumper in quick succession during a 10-2 burst that got Golden State to 96-83 and gave the Warriors life. Williams started another 11-4 run with a 3-pointer from the right wing after Durant went streaking past while trying for a steal, and Ellis' driving layup with 1:14 to play made it 108-102.
Wright then missed a wide open 3-pointer from the right wing with 50 seconds left, and the Warriors never had the ball with a chance to tie in the closing minutes.
Oklahoma City finished 37 for 40 from the foul line.
"There's frustration as to why we can't start off the way we finish the second, third and fourth quarters. We won the game by like 10 after the first quarter," Curry said. "We've just got to figure out how to come out of the blocks a little bit faster."
|Kevin Durant takes a breather in his first game back after injuring his knee. (Getty Images)|
|Golden State (8-12)||17||25||28||39||109|
|Oklahoma City (14-6) «||32||22||36||24||114|
|GS:S. Curry 39 Pts
GS:D. Wright 11 Reb
GS:S. Curry 6 Ast
|OKC:K. Durant 28 Pts
OKC:J. Green 8 Reb
OKC:R. Westbrook 13 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|Oklahoma City||Golden State|
|D. Wright, SG||48||5-17||1-2||11||2||3||12|
|S. Curry, PG||46||14-20||7-7||1||6||5||39|
|M. Ellis, PG||39||11-21||6-7||5||0||5||29|
|D. Lee, C||30||4-12||0-0||9||5||4||8|
|A. Biedrins, C||23||2-4||0-0||6||3||5||4|
|R. Williams, SF||23||4-11||2-2||4||2||1||11|
|J. Adrien, SF||11||2-5||1-1||6||2||3||5|
|J. Lin, PG||9||0-0||1-2||0||0||0||1|
|C. Bell, SG||7||0-2||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|D. Gadzuric, C||5||0-1||0-0||1||0||1||0|
|V. Radmanovic, SF||Did Not Play|
|R. Carney, SF||Did Not Play|
|L. Amundson, PF||Did Not Play|
|B. Wright, PF||Did Not Play|
|E. Udoh, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|J. Green, PF||42||6-15||5-5||8||1||3||17|
|K. Durant, SF||38||8-16||11-12||7||3||2||28|
|R. Westbrook, PG||38||4-16||11-13||7||13||3||19|
|T. Sefolosha, SF||36||3-8||0-0||7||3||0||6|
|N. Krstic, C||20||3-9||3-3||4||0||1||9|
|S. Ibaka, PF||26||8-10||3-3||8||1||6||19|
|J. Harden, SG||25||3-6||4-4||2||1||3||12|
|E. Maynor, PG||10||1-4||0-0||2||2||3||2|
|R. Ivey, PG||7||1-1||0-0||2||1||0||2|
|M. Peterson, SG||Did Not Play|
|N. Collison, PF||Did Not Play|
|D. Cook, SG||Did Not Play|
|D. White, PF||Did Not Play|
|B. Mullens, C||Did Not Play|
|C. Aldrich, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|