The Oklahoma City Thunder trailed early in the second quarter to the Miami Heat. It lasted 18 seconds. James Harden hit three free throws and Oklahoma City grabbed the two point lead and never looked back. The Thunder used a near triple-double from MVP candidate Kevin Durant to run the Heat out of the building 103-87. The Thunder improved to 37-12 and 22-4 at home.
It was built as a potential NBA Finals match up between two elite teams. Both teams were tied for the second best winning percentage in the league. However, it was just one team that really was consistent all night. Oklahoma City shot really well in the first quarter, even though the only held onto a one point game after the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was the Kevin Durant look-at-me-now show. Durant went off in the second quarter for 11 explosive points. One that was punctuated by a huge alley oop pass from Russell Westbrook. Oklahoma City took their biggest lead of the first half off a Harden dunk that made the score 55-42 with 2:00 to go until half. Oklahoma City would go into halftime with a 60-49 lead.
The second half had a lot more defense than the first half. Oklahoma City really struggled to score in the third quarter. Credit a pretty decent Miami defense accompanied by bad shooting in the quarter. However, Oklahoma City never quit. They were able to push the lead to as many as 14 in the quarter. It was not to be there for long as Dwayne Wade hit a 65 foot buzzer beater to end the quarter at 80-69.
The fourth quarter was more great defense from the Thunder. However, it was the Kendrick Perkins explosion party that really just set the tone for the end of the game. Check out the clip to see what I’m talking about:
Oklahoma City would push their lead to as many as 16 multiple times before finally getting it to 16 at the very end. Some three point shooting really kept Miami in the ballpark for most of the game. There were a couple of times where Miami did get it to 9 points. Even once they got it to 8, but Oklahoma City would not allow them any closer.
Post Game Grades
Oklahoma City held the “vaunted” Heat to 87 points, while forcing 21 turnovers. I said if OKC could hold Miami under their season average (48%), they’d have a really good chance. They did. They held them to 46% shooting from the field. Not to mention, the turnovers were just as impressive. They turned 21 Miami turnovers into 28 points.
Oklahoma City won the rebounding battle by five boards. However, most importantly, they only allowed FOUR offensive rebounds. They held the Heat to just six second chance points. It was a very impressive game overall on the rebounding side of it.
James Harden: A
The Miami Heat did not have an answer for this guy. He was 6-7 from the floor and 6-7 from the free throw line for 19 points. He was a cool +10 from the floor in 32 game minutes. Only real negative from this all? Harden had 7 turnovers.
- How about the energy of the Thunder? They came out and really just exploded and it helped surge them through all Heat runs.
- I was very impressed with how Oklahoma City handled Westbrook on the bench with three fouls in the first half. When he went out with his third foul, It was just a four point OKC lead. OKC Finished with an 11 point lead at halftime.
- Kevin. Wayne. Durant. This cat was just impressive. He had 28 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. He really just had Lebron’s James’ lunch all evening. What is even better about this is he was all over James defensively. James finished with 17 points on 18 shots. He also help force four LBJ turnovers.
- If you would have told me before the game that Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins would have combined for 35 points on 16 of 21 shooting with 16 rebounds, I would have told you to turn off the video game.
- Kendrick Perkins is averaging 11.3 points per game over his last three games. I don’t think I ever thought I’d see this from him in a Thunder uniform.
- Russell Westbrook didn’t have the best offensive night. However, he was a huge headache defensively for the Heat. He had three steals and was very involved in forcing bad shot selections. I was really impressed with how he kept his composure even though he only made 4-of-16 shots
- I knew three-point shooting was going to be key in this game. Both teams were top 11 in percentages. Had I had 4 keys to the game, It would have been number 4. That said, Oklahoma City forced the Heat to go 7-22 from the floor for 31.8% from behind the arc. While, the Thunder went 6-11 from three-point range.
- Coincidence or not, Oklahoma City has improved to 3-0 since acquiring Derek Fisher. They’re winning by an average of 9 points a night.
- The Thunder are now 18-3 when they have 20 or more assists. They had 26 tonight on 39 made baskets. Just so impressive.
- Oklahoma City forced a lot of Miami turnovers tonight. Also, not allowing a lot of offensive rebounds, the Thunder were able to take a lot more shots than the Heat. For most of the game, the Thunder had 8 shot advantage on the Heat until OKC started turning it over midway in the fourth quarter. OKC made 6 more shots on 3 extra chances than Miami.
- Oklahoma City now has a magic number of seven games until they clinch the division and a playoff spot.
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