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Midas Touch: Durant Rips Golden State

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Whenever Oklahoma City and Golden State get together, it's pretty safe to anticipate seeing something spectacular.

The first two showdowns this year featured buzzer beaters by Andre Iguodala and Russell Westbrook, respectively. While the third and final regular-season meeting might not have offered the heart-stopping finishes seen in the prior contests, it certainly didn't skimp on the sensational.

There were plenty of fireworks inside Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday night and one man was responsible for the lion's share: No. 35.

Kevin Durant has been a one-man wrecking crew since Westbrook was sidelined with a knee operation in late December but he was on an entirely different level in a 127-121 victory against the Warriors.

In fact, it was a career-best performance from the perennial All-Star. On the tail end of a back-to-back, KD dropped a career-high 54 points.

And if that wasn't impressive enough, he did it on only 28 shots. To say Durant was hot would be a substantial understatement.

He was hot out of the gates, connecting on nine of his first 10 shots, parlaying his torrid start into 29 first-half points to help give OKC a 71-65 lead at the half.

And he was nowhere near cooling off.

Sure, his first field goal after the break didn't come until nearly two minutes left in the third quarter, but he quickly rattled off eight points in the final 2:15 of the period to enter the fourth with a 10-point lead against one of the league's elite offensive teams.

Then things just got stupid.

Durant did his best Rucker Park rendition in the fourth quarter, torching the Warriors in a virtual game-clinching flurry where he hit three-consecutive 3's and a beautiful fall-away jumper for 11 points in the span of one minute and 47 seconds that swelled the Thunder lead to 17 with 4:52 remaining.

Durant matched his previous career mark of 52 on the last basket of his mid-quarter spurt and surpassed it on a pair of free throws that were serenaded by a chorus of well-deserved "MVP!" chants with 2:45 remaining in the contest.

And this 54-point outing was as efficient as they come: 19-of-28 shooting, 5-of-9 from 3, and 11-of-13 from the foul line.

Oh, and the rest of his teammates weren't too shabby either.

Reggie Jackson was dominant at times en route to 14 points and six assists, while Serge Ibaka had 21 points and eight boards on 8-of-11 shooting.

Even Kendrick Perkins got into the action with a season-high 12 rebounds in a high-energy showing where he set numerous key screens to open up Durant and Co. And Jeremy Lamb added an efficient 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a pair of timely 3's to keep the Warriors at arm's length.

Golden State point guard Stephen Curry was incredible in his own right with 37 points on 11-of-18 shooting and 6-of-10 from 3-point range with 11 assists but it wasn't enough to overcome KD's superhero-esque effort.

Klay Thompson added 26 points and his six-of-nine 3's for the Warriors, who fell to 25-16 with the loss and suffered their 10th-straight loss in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder, on the other hand, improved to 30-10 overall and a whopping 17-3 at The Peake.

OKC ended up shooting a red-hot 58 percent from the floor, highlighted by a scorching 64-percent mark in the first half, which helped counter a 16-of-27 shooting performance from the Warriors from 3-point range and a 52.4 percent night overall.

The Thunder also held a 41-33 edge in rebounding and outscored the Warriors 50-40 in the paint.

All-in-all, it was the highest-scoring outing for the Thunder this season and the 39 first-quarter points also set a high-water mark, as well as being the most points allowed by Golden State this year.

Oklahoma City will aim for its third-straight win on Sunday when Sacramento (14-24) comes to town for a 6 p.m. tip.

 

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