Kevin Durant had 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.
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.
Stephen Curry scored 22 points and reserve Jarrett Jack had 19 points on a night the playoff-bound Warriors lost center Andrew Bogut to another injury. The 7-footer left in the first quarter with a sprained left ankle. His status is unclear.
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.
Ibaka finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Durant was 10 for 16 from the floor, helping the Thunder outshoot the Warriors 50.6 to 44 percent.
Bogut exited with 2:55 remaining in the quarter, went to the locker and did not return. The team said Bogut sprained his left ankle, which he broke in January of 2012 and underwent microfracture on last April.
It’s unclear how Bogut was injured and his status for Friday night’s game at the Los Angeles Lakers was not immediately clear.
In the meantime, Durant and Westbrook got rolling late in the second half, including one series sure to fill the highlights: Westbrook finished a layup over a defender, then blocked Curry’s shot before Durant took the ball coast-to-coast for a soaring one-handed dunk at full extension that again brought the road fans to their feet once more.
The Thunder’s defense smothered Golden State’s shooters in the third quarter to put the game away. They started the third quarter on a 22-5 run, and they took a 94-73 lead on Durant’s 3-pointer in the final minute of the third quarter.
Oklahoma City played the second half without its center, too, due to an injury that seems far less serious. Kendrick Perkins sat out the final 24 minutes because of right hamstring tightness, the team said.
With the Thunder in full control, there was no need to play anyway.
The only drama left was whether Durant would get his second triple-double of the season against the Warriors. Instead, Thunder coach Scott Brooke replaced Durant with 8:14 remaining with his team still up 20 points.
Durant recorded his first career triple-double in a 119-109 win over the Warriors in Oklahoma City on Nov. 18.
NOTES: Martin left in the fourth quarter with lower back tightness. … The Thunder won the season-series 3-1. … Curry joined Ray Allen (2005-06), Dennis Scott (1995-96) and George McCloud (1995-96) as the only players in NBA history to make at least 250 3-pointers in a season. … Former Warriors players Sleepy Floyd and Tom Meschery each received standing ovations when they were shown on the main video screen during separate timeouts in the first half.