After missing the past six games with a hamstring injury, Kevin Durant returned to the court to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 111-89 beatdown of the Utah Jazz on Monday with 27 points, six rebounds and four steals, all while sitting the entirety of the fourth quarter. And he did it with peak KD-like efficiency: 10-13 from the field, 7-7 from inside the three-point line.
The Thunder went 3-3 in KD’s absence, but two of those wins were against cellar-dwelling Philadelphia and New Orleans. Thankfully, Durant’s injury healed in reasonable time, because treading water against one of the easier portions of their schedule (not to mention their failure to make the playoffs last year) reveals just how much they need the former MVP. And in the words of Russell Westbrook, “Just like he never left.”
Hamstring injuries have a high rate of recurrence, so it was lucky that the Thunder so thoroughly dominated the Jazz that Durant was able to rest for the fourth quarter. OKC is 9-6, in first place in the Northwest division and in prime playoff position (as early as it is), so with a healthy Durant, they should have a fairly straightforward path to the postseason. But in light of recent history, it’s impossible to take a healthy Durant for granted.