Then, Durant and the Thunder got going and finished the night with their best offensive performance on the road since 2009.
Russell Westbrook scored 28 points and Durant added 26 as the Thunder built a big lead in the second quarter and rolled to a 124-94 win over Houston. It was their largest road win since beating the Clippers 126-85 on April 15, 2009.
"I started off terrible and I just wanted to get going," Durant said. "I just wanted to come out and shoot a good shot, and I was able to get started."
Durant scored 11 points during a 16-0 run by the Thunder to end the first half and extend the lead to 18. Oklahoma City had another big run early in the third quarter to put the game further out of reach.
"The end of the second quarter is what pushed us over the top, and that third quarter was really good as well," Durant said. "We started off so well, got some steals, got some fast-break points. So it was a good one."
Former Thunder sixth man James Harden scored 25 for the Rockets, who went cold on offense for long stretches.
"(We were) careless with the ball," Harden said. "I don't know how to explain everything, but at least get a shot up and not turn the ball over."
It was Oklahoma City's second win this season over Houston, after taking the first meeting 120-98.
Kevin Martin, who came to Oklahoma City in the trade for Harden, finished with 19 points and five 3-pointers. Westbrook had eight rebounds and eight assists.
Oklahoma City improved to 12-3 when Durant and Westbrook each score more than 20 points.
"I felt comfortable," Westbrook said. "It's probably the first night all year I shot the ball well. I've got to put two games together."
Marcus Morris scored a career-high 24 points for Houston in its most lopsided loss of the season.
Oklahoma City was up by six before the Rockets used an 8-4 spurt to close the gap to 52-50 with 4 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The Thunder took control after that, scoring the last 16 points of the half to extend their lead to 68-50 at the break. Durant got it going, scoring the first eight points in that span. He also finished it off, sinking a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left in the quarter.
All but five of Durant's 16 first-half points came in that stretch.
The Rockets couldn't do anything right during that time, committing four turnovers and missing six shots.
"I told the guys there's a flow in the game and you've got to recognize that flow sometimes and you've got to know when it's time to make the extra pass, when it's time to be extra careful with the ball," Houston coach Kevin McHale said.
Houston had cut its 18-point halftime deficit to 13 early in the third quarter before it hit another scoring drought, going more than 5 minutes without a field goal.
Harden made one free throw during that span as the Thunder added 17 points to pad the lead to 87-58.
The Thunder had a season-high 16 steals to help in the win.
Houston had five shots blocked in that stretch. The problems started when Kendrick Perkins blocked two layups by Chandler Parsons 3 seconds apart. Durant blocked a jump shot by Harden the next time down the court and Thabo Sefolosha blocked a layup by Jeremy Lin about a minute later. The last one was also by Perkins, on a jump shot by Omer Asik.
Martin made two 3-pointers in less than a minute near the end of the first quarter to give the Thunder a 31-26 lead entering the second.
The Thunder were up by three points in the second quarter before using a 9-3 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Martin, to extend the lead to 44-35 about 7 minutes before halftime.
Royce White, the 16th overall pick in the June draft, was assigned to Houston's D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. White has spent most of the season on Houston's inactive list while he and the team figure out how to handle his anxiety disorder and overall mental health. The move looks to be a positive step in White's return to the court. ... Harden has scored 20 or more points in a career-high 12 straight games. ... Houston's Patrick Patterson returned after missing the last seven games with a bone bruise in his right foot. He had two points and two rebounds in just more than 10 minutes. ... Houston G Toney Douglas tied a career high with five steals.