OAKLAND -- The playoffs are secure, a No. 6 seed is not quite so certain.

And suddenly neither is the status of center Andrew Bogut, who aggravated a sprained left ankle in the first quarter Thursday night and did not return in the Warriors' 116-97 loss to Oklahoma City.

Golden State hung with the Thunder for a half before the NBA's Western Conference leader pulled away. With three games left in the regular season, the Warriors have just a half-game lead over the Houston Rockets in the race for the No. 6 spot in the West.

A seventh-place finish would mean a daunting first-round playoff assignment against either the San Antonio Spurs or the Thunder.

Bogut, who had microfracture surgery on the same ankle late last April, suffered the sprain in Tuesday's playoff-clinching victory over Minnesota, according to a team spokesperson.

He aggravated it Thursday and exited the game with 2:55 left in the first quarter. He went to the locker room for the remainder of the night. It was not immediately clear whether his removal from the game was precautionary or indicative of something more serious.

Bogut, who came to Golden State last year in a trade that sent Monte Ellis to Milwaukee, has missed 48 games this season, 42 of them while rehabbing the ankle.

But Thursday was his 19th straight game back, and coach Mark Jackson said before the game that Bogut was making steady progress.


Advertisement

"We have seen flashes of the old Andrew Bogut," Jackson said, "and we will be very patient with the process."

Although Bogut was averaging just 6.1 points per game, Jackson said he changes the team with his defense and rebounding.

"He makes us a much-improved basketball team, makes us a dangerous out. ... His body of work completes us," Jackson said.

Now, barely a week before just their second playoff appearance in 19 seasons, the Warriors face the possibility of being without their 7-foot Australian.

Kevin Durant, the Thunder's three-time reigning NBA scoring champion, sparked the third-quarter surge that extended a six-point halftime margin. He scored 14 points, including a 3-pointer that gave OKC a 94-74 lead in the final minute of the period.

The Thunder shot 13 of 21 in the third quarter and led 96-77 entering the fourth. The Warriors never made another serious run.

Durant finished with 31 points, the 11th time in 21 games against Golden State that he scored at least 30 points. He also had 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Kevin Martin came off the bench to score 23, and Russell Westbrook contributed 18 points and nine assists.

Stephen Curry had 22 points and Jarrett Jack added 19 for the Warriors, who pulled most of their starters midway through the fourth quarter.

The Thunder kept control through much of the second quarter and led 47-40 after a 3-pointer by Westbrook with 5:03 left in the first half.

Curry answered with a 3-pointer before Jack turned a steal into a layup and Curry fed Harrison Barnes for a dunk after another steal, pulling Golden State even with 4:06 left.

The teams were tied once more, but the exchange seemed to rile the Thunder.

Westbrook, in particular, appeared agitated. First, he converted a physical drive to the basket, and seconds later he came from behind the swat a shot by Curry -- one of seven shots the Thunder blocked in the half.

The ball found its way to Durant, who went end to end and finished with a full-extension, one-handed dunk that had even the Warriors fans buzzing.

It also pushed OKC back into a six-point lead, which it maintained when Thabo Sefolosha swished a 3-pointer just before the halftime horn.

The Thunder led 31-27 after one quarter, and Serge Ibaka had racked up 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting.

  • If the Warriors wind up facing the Thunder again in the first round of the playoffs, they will open the series having lost nine straight games in Oklahoma City.

    Golden State's only road win over the Thunder since the franchise moved from Seattle after the 2007-08 season was a 112-102 triumph on Dec. 8, 2008.

    The unlikely hero of that victory -- the only Warriors starter that night still with the team -- was Andris Biendrins, whose 17-point, 21-rebound game was one of the best performances of his NBA career.

    Golden State won that game despite a 41-point outburst by Durant, just 20 years old at the time.

  • Thunder coach Scott Brooks, whose team would earn the No. 1 seed in the West by winning its final three games, was excited about the Warriors' return to the playoffs. He grew up in Manteca but admitted he never saw the Warriors play a postseason game as a youngster.