Early, the Boomers bombarded the Rockets with adrenaline. The Thunder roared to a 39-19 first-quarter lead and led by as many as 26 points in the second quarter.
Most of that came with Durant as the playmaker. When new starter Reggie Jackson picked up two fouls in the first four minutes, Derek Fisher replaced him, but Durant slid over to initiate the offense.
With spectacular results. The Thunder scored on its first five possessions with Durant at point guard and 13 of its first 15.
In the first half, Durant hit two walk-it-up and throw-it-up 3-pointers, and he also made two spectacular drives for dunks from the top of the circle. He was a nightmare for the Rockets to guard.
But the Thunder's offensive efficiency dried up as its emotional tank emptied, and the Rockets clawed back into the game.
Durant had 27 points in the first half but only three points in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Down the stretch, Durant returned to dominance, with 11 points in the final 8 1/2 minutes, and the Thunder won by one of the hairs in James Harden's beard.
“I knew I had to give it my all, no matter what,” Durant said. “Don't worry about missed shots or turnovers.”
How long can Durant carry this kind of load?
“However long they need me to do it,” Durant said. “I just gotta keep playing.”
And when this game was over, normally placid Nick Collison walked off the court with his hands raised, and Durant, who played all but 44 seconds of the game, found fellow yeoman Serge Ibaka for a hug and pat of the head, and the Thunder reveled in a victory that was historic and emotional.