New Orleans: Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant, sidelined since October after surgery to repair a broken right foot, scored 27 points in his NBA season debut Tuesday, a loss at New Orleans.
Last season`s NBA Most Valuable Player suffered a broken bone at the base of the small toe during a pre-season exhibition game and in his absence the Thunder struggled to a 5-12 start.
Adding to Oklahoma City`s woes was the injury absence of blackcourt star Russell Westbrook, who only returned to the Thunder lineup last Friday.
But not even the potent pairing together was enough against New Orleans as Tyreke Evans scored a game-high 30 points, Anthony Davis added 25 points and 10 rebounds and Ryan Anderson came off the bench to score 23 points for the Pelicans.
Durant played 30 minutes, the maximum he was going to be allowed into the game as a precautionary move, and hit 9-of-18 shots from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. He grabbed three rebounds, passed off two assists and gave away five turnovers.
Westbrook added 21 points for the Thunder while reserve Reggie Jackson added 17.
Durant, the reigning NBA scoring champion, took his first career MVP award last season by averaging 32 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game.
He became only the fourth player in NBA history to win four scoring titles in five years, joining Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and George Gervin.
The Thunder had won two games in a row after a six-game losing streak.