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Thunder 116, Warriors 97

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oklahoma City Thunder took a big step toward securing the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs Thursday night, running away from the Golden State Warriors behind Kevin Durant's 14 third-quarter points en route to a 116-97 victory.

Durant had 31 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to lead Oklahoma City, which won the season series 3-1 over the Warriors. Russell Westbrook contributed 18 points and nine assists to the win, and Kevin Martin came off the bench for 23 points, hitting four 3-pointers and eight of his 10 shots overall.

The win gave the Thunder (58-21) a half-game lead -- and the tie-breaker advantage -- over the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the conference and the home-court advantage throughout the Western playoffs with now less than a week remaining in the NBA regular season.

The Warriors (45-34), meanwhile, might have lost more than just a game in their first outing after clinching their first playoff berth since 2007. Center Andrew Bogut sprained his surgically repaired left ankle in the first quarter, headed to the locker room and he could not return to the game.

The Warriors made no immediate announcement regarding Bogut's status for Friday's quick turnaround in Los Angeles against the Lakers. The veteran has missed 42 games this season because of the ankle.

The loss sliced the Warriors' lead over Houston (44-34) to a half-game in their battle for the sixth playoff spot in the West. The Rockets hold the tie-breaker.

The Thunder took command of Thursday's game almost immediately after the halftime break, getting consecutive 3-pointers from Thabo Sefolosha in a 9-2 burst that opened a 69-56 advantage.

Oklahoma City also lost its starting center during that stretch, with Kendrick Perkins leaving the game for good with tightness in his right hamstring.

Durant hit five of his six shots, including a pair of 3's, later in the period as the Thunder extended its lead to as many as 20 points en route to the comfortable victory.

Serge Ibaka (17) and Sefolosha (10) also scored in double figures for the Thunder, which won for the eighth time in its last 10 games.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 22 points, hitting half his 18 shots, and Jarrett Jack came off the bench to chip in 19 points. David Lee provided his nightly double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Despite holding the upper hand a majority of the time, the Thunder couldn't break loose of the Warriors in a high-energy first half that ended with the visitors on top 60-54.

Durant (15) and Westbrook (13) combined for almost half the Thunder's points in the first two periods, and they also teamed on one of the most entertaining sequences of the season.

Westbrook began the end-to-end highlight by racing in from behind to smother a Curry layup attempt.

The ball deflected straight to Durant, who beelined 80 feet to the rim for a savage dunk between defenders and a 55-49 Oklahoma City lead with 1:36 remaining in the second period.

Curry's 14 points were tops for the Warriors in the half.

NOTES: The game paired the league's best (Warriors, 40.2) and third-best (Thunder, 38.1) teams in 3-point shooting percentage. Only eight teams in NBA history have completed a season with a 3-point percentage of 40.0 or better. ... Bogut's appearance against the Thunder was his first since Nov. 20, 2010 as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. ... TNT scheduled three games involving the Warriors this season, and it got its money's worth with the first two. The Warriors beat Denver 106-105 and Dallas 100-97 in its two previous nationally featured games. ... How infrequently have the Warriors made the playoffs in recent years? They have played just 11 playoff games since TNT analyst Chris Webber's rookie season with Golden State in 1994, after which he forced a trade to Washington. ... Asked before the game why he's pushing his team to beat out San Antonio for the No. 1 playoff position in the West, Thunder coach Scott Brooks noted, "It's always important to have an extra home game in a playoff series." ... Warriors coach Mark Jackson gushed over the Thunder's Durant, saying, "The guy is an all-time great and I don't just throw that out there. To be his size, to be that athletic and to be able to shoot that well -- the guy is off the charts. This game has not seen anyone like Kevin Durant in its history." ... The Warriors also will get a shot at the other team vying for the top spot in the West when they host San Antonio on Monday. Sandwiching that game are road games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland. ... The Thunder finishes the regular season at Portland, then at home against Sacramento and Milwaukee.
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