Kevin Durant to return to Thunder lineup Friday vs. Pelicans

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If Oklahoma City is going to catch the Phoenix Suns for the eight seed in the West, sweeping a home-and-home against New Orleans would be a significant step in the right direction. The Thunder won the first game of that series on the road Wednesday thanks to Russell Westbrook going off for 45 points.

Now they get Kevin Durant back for the next one Friday night.

Durant had missed four of the Thunder’s last five games due to a toe injury (he’s missed 27 of 49 on the season), but he went through shootaround on Friday morning and is set to go that night, the team confirmed.

Durant described it this way, via Royce Young of ESPN.

“I feel like it’s better now. I can push through it,” he said. “I’ve been out for so long this year as far as injuries are concerned, so I pushed it when I shouldn’t have. That’s part of the game sometimes, you’re still learning your body and trying to figure out the best way to do it and put myself first. It’s definitely been a tough year as far as injuries for me.”

The Thunder enter Friday night as the 10 seed in the West (two spots out of the playoffs), two games back of eight seed Phoenix and one back of nine seed New Orleans. Win on Friday night and Oklahoma City will have tied New Orleans.

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The Thunder then face the Clippers on Sunday in a national television game between two teams that should be Western Conference powers but have had their ups and downs.