OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Russell Westbrook blocked Stephen Curry's layup, Kevin Durant corralled the ball and dribbled down court. He threw down a soaring dunk at full extension, then pretended to slice his throat and crossed his hands in prayer.
"Kill 'em and pray for 'em after the game," Durant said of his new celebration.
Durant finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to help the Oklahoma City Thunder regain the Western Conference's best record with a 116-97 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
"It's nothing against the team I'm playing against," Durant said of his animated moves, adding that somebody encouraged him to do it following a highlight dunk. "Come out with a mindset and be friends after the game."
With Durant leading the way, that's just what the Thunder did.
Kevin Martin scored 23 points off the bench and Russell Westbrook added 18 points and nine assists for the Thunder, who moved a half-game ahead of idle San Antonio for the top seed. The Spurs split the season series with Oklahoma City, but the Thunder (58-21) own the tiebreaker because of its better conference record.
Oklahoma City ended a stretch of six games against playoffs teams 5-1.
"Our approach was to embrace the challenge," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "And I think our guys have done a good job of that."
Two nights after sealing the franchise's second playoff berth in 19 years, Golden State missed a chance to take the next step.
Curry scored 22 points and reserve Jarrett Jack had 19 points on a night the Warriors lost center Andrew Bogut to another injury. The 7-footer left in the first quarter with a sprained left ankle.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Bogut is not expected to make the trip to Los Angeles for Friday's night game against the Lakers.
"Even before that, they played playoff basketball and we didn't," Jackson said. "That was a team that's chasing the No. 1 seed and was trying to send a message, 'Just in case I see you at some point down the road.'"
The Warriors (45-34) are a mere half-game ahead of Houston for sixth place in the West. The Rockets hold the tiebreaker after winning three of four this season over Golden State, which looked every bit like a team at the back of the playoff pack against the defending conference champions.
At times, even in embarrassing fashion.
Serge Ibaka blocked Bogut's dunk attempt at the rim in the first quarter, then gave an extended finger wave that even drew roars from Golden State's 31st straight sellout crowd announced at 19,596. Ibaka ran down court to tip-back Durant's miss, then hit a 3-pointer and later dunked to put Oklahoma City ahead 22-15.
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