All-Star small forward Kevin Durant returned to the Thunder's starting lineup Sunday after sitting out two games with a sprained left knee. He learned Saturday night he had been cleared to play.
â€œIt felt good. I was excited,â€ said Durant, the league's defending scoring champ and league leader again this season. Durant finished with 28 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field and 11 of 12 from the free-throw line in the 114-109 victory over Golden State inside Oklahoma City Arena.
The plan was to rest Durant the entire fourth quarter with the Thunder owning a 90-70 lead.
â€œThe plan also was to play better in the fourth and not give up 39 points,â€ Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry finished with 39 points and six assists. He shot 14 of 20 from the field, 4 for 7 from 3-point range and 7 for 7 from the free-throw line.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook drew the unenviable task of guarding Curry.
â€œOh, he's a great young guy,â€ Westbrook said of Curry.
The 22-year-old Westbrook paused and corrected himself. â€œI'm talking about young. He's older than me,â€ Westbrook said with a chuckle.
Curry actually is six months older than Westbrook. Asked to explain why he thought Curry was younger, Westbrook said: â€œI don't know. Maybe it's because he looks younger, but he's older than me.â€
ONLY ON SUNDAYS
With the victory, the Thunder is now 1-4 on Sundays this season.
â€œHey, we won on a Sunday. I like the 9:30 (a.m.) shoot-around. I think that was the difference,â€ Brooks claimed.
The Thunder previously had 10 a.m. shoot-around sessions.
â€œI can't wait until next Sunday,â€ Brooks said. â€œWho do we play?â€
Thunder power forward Nick Collison did not play because Golden State â€œplays a lot of small guys,â€ Brooks said.
â€œI could not find a spot for him on the court. He was ready to play in the second half if they had used a legitimate power forward or a center. They never gave us that chance.â€
Fans donated 940 toys, and Hooters contributed $10,000 to the annual Christmas toy drive on Sunday night. ... The Thunder's bench outscored Golden State's bench 35-17, led by Serge Ibaka's 19 points and 12 points from James Harden. â€¦ Thunder backup forward D.J. White (sprained right ankle) was cleared to play, but did not enter the game. â€¦ Enid native Mark Price is an assistant coach with Golden State. â€¦ Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha leads the league in steal-turnover ratio at 2.0 . â€¦ Brooks is now 86-86 in the regular season as Thunder coach. â€¦ The Thunder has a three-game road trip with Chicago, Minnesota and New Orleans this week. That's followed by a four-game home stand against Cleveland, Houston, Sacramento and Phoenix.
â€œThat was a shooting clinic. Those were not wide-open shots. It was a hand in the face. Those were contested makes. The guy's one of the best shooters in the world and he showed that again tonight.â€ â€“ Brooks on Curry