Kevin Durant's much-anticipated return to Oklahoma City on Saturday night was more eventful because of the drama before the game rather than what happened on the court, as the Golden State Warriors dominated the Thunder in a 130-114 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The most surprising part of the night occurred during pregame introductions when Durant received a mixed reaction from Thunder fans:
There was a more partisan reaction during the game whenever Durant touched the ball, as fans rained down a chorus of boos on the former NBA MVP.
Speaking to ESPN's Lisa Salters after the win, Durant seemed surprised the fans weren't more boisterous toward him.
"I actually thought it would be a little louder," he told Salters, via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
ESPN's Rachel Nichols passed along video of Durant walking out to the court with a cupcake trolling him off to the side:
"When Kendrick Perkins played center for the Thunder, he called teammates 'cupcake' if he thought they were acting a little soft," Jenkins wrote. "Westbrook and Durant adopted the term in jest. Westbrook posted a bittersweet pic on Instagram: three plates of cupcakes topped by red and blue stars and sprinkles."
In case anyone thought Oklahoma City was taking the trolling too far, the Warriors showed on Twitter earlier in the day they were not above playing the game, taking a swipe at Westbrook with this preview image featuring Durant and Thunder forward Andre Roberson:
Draymond Green got involved in the cupcake action with his attire after the Warriors won, via Rosalyn Gold-Onwude of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area:
Courtney Cronin of the San Jose Mercury News provided an image of Stephen Curry wearing his own cupcake shirt during the postgame press conference:
Once the game got started, though, the talent disparity between the Warriors and Thunder was on display yet again. Durant led his team with 34 points and nine rebounds, and the team as a whole shot 52.9 percent.
This marked the third matchup between the Warriors and Thunder this season, but it was the first time they played at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Those first two games were also one-sided affairs, with Golden State winning by a combined 47 points.
As the contest got away from Oklahoma City, Up The Thunder noted there were some things that hadn't changed from the opening tipoff:
Westbrook wanted to make sure he made his presence felt, even if the Thunder weren't able to earn a victory. He recorded an unofficial triple-double with 47 points, 11 rebounds and 11 turnovers, as well as eight assists.
There was a tense moment between Durant and Westbrook in the third quarter, which The Vertical's Chris Mannix summed up:
ESPN's Chris B. Haynes captured a separate moment involving Draymond Green and a Thunder fan that required police intervention to calm the fan down:
At that point, the Warriors were up by 21 points with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter. However, Westbrook never stopped showing his fight, and the Thunder kept up the pace all the way through the game. They managed to cut the deficit to 108-96 with 8:42 left in the fourth quarter. but that would be as good as things got.
Westbrook, who scored 20 of his points in the third quarter, provided Thunder fans with a thrill on this drive and slam against Andre Iguodala, per the NBA's official Twitter account:
Durant got his own moment against Westbrook with the three-pointer to serve as the symbolic dagger for this game:
This was one of the most surreal NBA games in recent memory. Despite not being a close game from the second quarter on, the Thunder crowd reacted to every play like this was Game 7 of the NBA Finals with the score tied.
Durant led the Warriors in scoring for the third time in three games against the Thunder. Westbrook was still able to put up his numbers and get in his former teammate's face, despite the loss.
This was just another instance demonstrating the Warriors' scoring depth. It's a weird game when Curry and Klay Thompson both have 26 points yet don't really factor into the storyline, but this was a different kind of game.
Meanwhile, the Thunder are trying to find players who can contribute behind Westbrook. Victor Oladipo performed well with 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting, and Steven Adams had a solid night with 13 points, but no other Oklahoma City player scored more than nine points.
The Warriors once again showed why they are the most dominant team in the NBA. This game will go down as just another win in their season, but Durant finally has this moment in his rear-view mirror to fully move on as he seeks his first career NBA championship.
After the game, SportsCenter shared a video on Twitter of Curry walking to the locker room with one of the cupcake T-shirts draped over his shoulders:
Per Erik Horne of the Oklahoman, Westbrook once again talked about how things with him and Durant are in the past:
Durant addressed the constant barrage of "cupcake" chants from the fans, per Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News:
Going back to the cupcake image Westbrook posted on Instagram, Durant didn't view it as a slight toward him.
"I don't think anything you guys think was a shot at me was a shot," he told Slater.
"The most vicious things you could say, they said about my son tonight. It's hurtful," Wanda Durant told ESPN following the game, per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, who provided more:
"We poured our heart into this place. Not just him. Our family. This is basketball. This is not whether or not you're going to make it into heaven."
Wanda Durant sat in the stands behind the Warriors' bench for the game. She said several fans approached her and said obscene things about her son, to her.
"They called him a snake, a sellout, a b---h," she said. "It's just a sad day. I understand that they loved him. I do understand it. But the name calling. The people with the cupcakes on their backs. ... It didn't have to be like this."
After the game, she had tears in her eyes after hugging her son outside the Warriors' locker room.
"This is not the first time I've been back since Kevin left," she said. "This is maybe my fourth or fifth time. Every time that I've been back, people seem like they are afraid to say something nice to me. People will whisper, 'There's his mom. Ooooooh!'
"There are people who tell me they still love him. But then you have the people who shot his jersey up. My son poured his heart and soul into this place for eight years, and for them to treat him like this because he decided to go someplace else to play is really tough."
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr praised his star player's ability to handle himself in such an unusual circumstance: