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Kevin Durant Returns But Thunder Well Back in the West

Kevin Durant has returned for the Oklahoma City Thunder after missing the first 17 games of the regular season with a fractured boned in his foot.

The reigning NBA MVP and scoring machine for the Thunder played for the first time this season on Tuesday night. His Thunder teammates and fans were ecstatic over his return, but the Thunder lost nonetheless 112-104 to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Durant poured in 27 points on the night but things did not go as planned.

This is the first major injury Durant has faced in his seven-year career. He had to sit out six weeks after missing just 16 games in his first seven seasons in the NBA.

Without Durant and for a period with both Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder has limped through the first month of the season.

Offense was the toughest part without Westbrook and Durant that led to a 5-12 start of the season before dropping to 5-13 with the loss on Tuesday to New Orleans.

The team was ranked next to last in offensive efficiency without Durant and Westbrook. Defense became the team’s identity and backbone during the team’s first month of the season.

With both Westbrook and Durant back in the fold, the Thunder offense should return to his normal high-scoring self.

However, the defense that made up much of the first 17 games of the season did not show up against the Pelicans and that is worrisome for Durant and coach Scott Brooks.

The Thunder gave up 69 points in the first half to New Orleans and 40 in one quarter. The Thunder trailed by as many as 19 points in the game.

Durant said the offense will be there for the team, but the defense, starting with him, has to play better.

Oklahoma City is 5-13 at this point. The 13 losses have come three months earlier than they did last season, but no panic is evident in the Thunder locker room.

With Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka making up the nucleus of the team, the players are confident of returning to form.

The Thunder currently sits 5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. However, Durant is confident the team will turn its season around, but just needs some time for everyone to readjust to having the two top players in the lineup.

Westbrook was quick to point out following the loss to New Orleans that is was the first game of the season that the usual starting five had played and it will take time for the rhythm to return.

With 64 games left on the regular season schedule, the players are not worried about reaching the postseason, as they must make up just 5 games to be back in the thick of things.

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