The Thunder finally got the band back together on Tuesday night in New Orleans, but Anthony Davis left them singing the blues.
Davis' 25 points, 10 rebounds, six steals, four blocks and four assists led the upstart Pelicans to a 112-104 win over a nearly-full Thunder squad.
After roughly four weeks of watching Oklahoma City run out D-League players, makeshift lineups and guys whom many fans needed to Google, the Thunder finally had its full starting lineup available. Just four days after fellow All Star Russell Westbrook returned, Kevin Durant made his highly-anticipated season debut. Durant poured in 27 points on 9-18 shooting while playing through some understandable rust.
Despite the external excitement, Thunder coach Scott Brooks downplayed Durant's return afterward.
“It's not about his return, it's about how we played. And we didn't defend how we normally defend,” Brooks explained. “We have to defend to win in this league; we're built on defense. It's not about Kevin's return, it's not about Russell's return, it's about how we play. And we didn't play the right way tonight.”
Westbrook, however, struggled. He did score 21 to go with seven assists and six boards, but shot just 6-20 and turned it over seven times.
Oklahoma City looked good early on, but things got out of hand in a hurry late in the second quarter. After Anthony Morrow buried a 3-ball to put OKC up 41-38 with 7:07 to play in the first half, New Orleans closed the period on a 31-11 run that included a 12-0 explosion in the final two minutes.
The Thunder battled back and cut the lead to five early in the fourth quarter, but New Orleans responded with five unanswered layups to put the game on ice.
Durant and Westbrook returning to their natural habitats allowed Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb to assume their regular bench roles. Jackson scored 17 on 7-14 shooting while Lamb added 15 on 5-7.
Tyreke Evans dropped a season-high 30 points while Ryan Anderson added 23 points and 11 rebounds off the Pelican bench. Jrue Holiday chipped in 16 points and 10 assists.
“It's all about individual pride,” Brooks said about the Thunder's defensive effort. “You have to man up and guard your man.”
Oklahoma City (5-13, 1-8 on the road) will attempt to “man up” when it visits the hapless 76ers on Friday night. New Orleans improved to 8-8.