Kevin Durant returns to Thunder lineup, stars in blowout of Jazz

Kevin Durant missed more than the 7-to-10-day estimate that accompanied initial reports of his left hamstring strain. The time off appears to have had no adverse effects on his production.

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Playing his first game since missing the second half of the Oklahoma City Thunder's November 10 win at the Washington Wizards, Durant scored a game-high 27 points on a very efficient 10-of-13 from the field (including 3-of-6 three-pointers) and added six rebounds, four steals, one assist, and one block in 30 minutes.

Durant's performance was just one part of a stellar outing for the Thunder, who defeated the Utah Jazz 111-89 at Vivint Smart Home Arena. OKC outscored Utah 40-26 in the second quarter to build a 17-point halftime lead. The margin got as high as 34 points in the final period.

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The return of the 2014 MVP appeared to bring balance to the Thunder offense, as well. Four others scored in double figures, but the more impressive stat involved eight players attempting between five and 13 field goals. Extended garbage time is responsible for a few of those totals, but a combined 23 shots for Durant and Russell Westbrook (20 points on 5-of-10 FG and nine assists) shows that the Thunder did not depend too much on their superstars.

The Thunder went 3-3 in Durant's absence — Monday's win brings them to 9-6 and fourth in the West. If he stays healthy, they could make some big moves up the standings.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!