"He is the NBA's hardest player," Sixers coach Brett Brown said about Durant. "And he's always been . . . incredibly difficult [to] guard."
A lot of the Thunder's success - especially recently - is attributable to Durant, who returned to action after taking Friday night off against the Boston Celtics with a strained right shoulder.
To the crowd's delight, the 6-foot-9, 240-pounder didn't look like someone playing with an injury. The seventh-year player finished with a game-high 32 points on an array of dunks, layups, jumpers, fadeaways, and a three-pointer. It was the 10th consecutive game in which he has scored at least 30 points.
"My teammates kept feeding me and put me in some good positions to be successful," he said. "I didn't want to shoot a lot of deep shots tonight. I feel like my teammates did a great job of finding me at the rim or using a lot of pull-up jump shots."
On this night, Durant did much more than score points whenever he wanted to. He added 14 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, and a blocked shot. In the process, the former Texas Longhorn made a lot of fans happy.
There were plenty of Oklahoma City No. 35 jerseys in the building. Two fans, sitting courtside near the Thunder bench, donned Texas T-shirts with Durant's No. 35.
The Washington native even received the loudest ovation of any player during pregame introductions. Then Sixers and Oklahoma City fans alike cheered after every positive play he made.
"Being down the road in D.C., I had a lot of friends and family come up," Durant said. "It just felt good to be back on the East Coast. I've been coming up and down to Philly since I was a kid.
"To come back here and play and have so many cheer for us felt good."
And he made plenty of positive plays for them to cheer about.
Early in the game, Durant assisted on Serge Ibaka's dunk. Later in the first quarter, he stole the ball from Michael Carter-Williams on the Sixers' end of the court. Durant went on to score on a breakaway dunk.
It didn't matter who guarded the all-star. Durant went on to make poster-worthy moves on Carter-Williams, Hollis Thompson, James Anderson, and Dewayne Dedmon.
"We got small guys chasing him around and fronting him," Brown said. ". . . And he's long and scores in a variety of ways."
Ibaka added 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots for the Thunder.
Anderson led the Sixers with 19 points, while Thaddeus Young finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 steals.
Sixers sixth man Tony Wroten returned to action after missing three games with a sprained right ankle. The backup point guard finished with nine points in 16 minutes.