Poor Start Dooms Thunder In Game Two Loss
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Thunder started game two of the NBA Finals just like the first game: poorly.
This time, though, it cost them.
LeBron James scored 32 points, including two free throws with 7.1 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach, as Miami evened the NBA Finals at one game apiece with a 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The series now shifts to Miami for three games before possibly returning to Oklahoma City for games six and seven.
Kevin Durant shook off foul trouble and a slow start to lead the Thunder with 32 points. Russell Westbrook added 27 with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Miami led the entire game, and got great performances from the other two members of the Big Three, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Wade scored 24 points on 50 percent shooting, while Bosh was on a monster inside, scoring 16 points and grabbing 15 rebounds, including seven offensive rebounds.
The Heat came out on fire, clicking on all cylinders, and roared to an 18-2 lead, as Oklahoma City shot a horrendous 25 percent in the first quarter. If not for James Harden's 10 first quarter points, the Thunder would have been down a lot more than 12 points after one. Harden finished the game with 21 points.
The biggest issue for the Thunder, aside from not putting the ball in the basket, was foul trouble. Durant, who seemingly never has foul problems picked up his second foul with 3:40 left in the first quarter, and Westbrook followed with his second with 35.9 seconds left.
The Thunder slowly began coming back, going on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 10 and forcing Miami to call a timeout. However, after OKC trimmed the lead to 37-29, Miami went on a 14-5 run of their own to boost the last back to 17.
Shane Battier was once again a thorn in the Thunder's side, scoring 17 points for the game, including 5-7 from 3-point range.
OKC reverted to their old ways on offense, standing around and waiting on others to take long, contested jumpers. Needless to say, it didn't work. The Thunder shot just 34.1 percent in the first half, including a paltry 4-13 from three.
Bosh killed the Thunder inside, getting 10 rebounds in the first half, six on the offensive glass. The Heat also flipped the script on fastbreak points, a category OKC dominated in Game One, 24-4. The Heat had 10 fastbreak points in the first half, to zero for the Thunder.
It was a back and forth affair in the third quarter, as OKC tried valiantly to come back. Miami had an answer every time, keeping the lead at double-digits through much of the quarter.
The Thunder never gave up and continued to fight all the way to the finish, despite Durant picking up his fifth foul with more than 10 minutes remaining in the game. OKC battled, cutting the lead to four, at 90-86 with just under five minutes to play. A Russell Westbrook tip-in with 1:47 left cut the Miami lead to 94-91.
But Miami had an answer once again for the Thunder rally. James hit a step-back jumper off the window to put the Heat up five, and a Bosh dunk with 53.8 seconds left seemingly sealed the deal for Miami.
OKC had one last rally in them, cutting the lead to 98-96 on a Durant 3-pointer, but James' free throws after a Durant miss put the finishing touches on a hard-fought victory for the Heat.
Many expected this series to be at least a six game series. For the Thunder to have another home game, they'll have to get a win on the road in Miami. If they get two, they'll be looking to win the title on their home court.
Now it's Miami's turn to hold serve on their home court. Game Three will be Sunday at 7 p.m. CST, and it will be tough for the Thunder to win if they continue to get off to poor starts.
Good things come to those who wait, but OKC can't wait to start playing well. Not against a team as good as Miami.