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Durant nets 37 as Thunder blast Rockets in Harden's return

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant slides to the floor on a play against the Houston Rockets in the second half of NBA basketball ga
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant slides to the floor on a play against the Houston Rockets in the second half of NBA basketball ga

(Reuters) - Kevin Durant greeted former team mate James Harden with 37 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder blasted Houston Rockets 120-98 on Wednesday to spoil the shooting guard's return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Harden returned to Oklahoma City for the first time since being traded just before the season and it was a forgettable night for him and the Rockets.

Powered by Durant's hot shooting, the Thunder blew open a close game in the second quarter where they led by 18 before keeping the visiting Rockets at bay.

Serge Ibaka backed Durant with 23 and nine rebounds and Oklahoma City raced to their second straight blowout, having destroyed Charlotte 114-69 on Monday.

Harden, the Sixth Man of the Year last season, has emerged as the lead scorer for Houston but struggled against the Thunder making three of 16 shots for 17 points.

It had already been a humbling day for the Rockets who earlier attended the funeral of coach Kevin McHale's daughter who died from an auto-immune disease last week. McHale has been away from the team since November 10.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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