Strong Second Half Propels Thunder To Game One Win Over Miami

Tuesday, June 12th 2012, 10:52 pm
By: News 9

The state of Oklahoma is alive with NBA Finals fever and Monday night that enthusiasm helped the Thunder battle back to take the game one victory over the Miami Heat.

After being down by double digits for much of the first half, OKC found its rhythm after the break and dropped the Heat by a final of 105-94.

Kevin Durant poured in 36 points on the night with 17 of those coming in the fourth while Russell Westbrook added 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds to pull the Thunder back from a 13 point deficit.

OKC trailed until their final possession of the third quarter. Durant stepped in to drain 6-of 10 shots in the final frame and the Thunder never let go of that lead. Westbrook and Durant combined to outscore the Heat 41-40 over the final two periods.

"I think the only adjustment we made was playing harder and we have to just keep playing well on both ends" said Kevin Durant after the victory.

"It was a good win and we have great fans that gave us energy in the second half, but like I told the guys it's only one game," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.

Miami's Shane Battier opened the game with two early three-pointers, and just like that Miami gained momentum. By the end of the first Miami held a 29-22 advantage thanks to 5-of-6 shooting from behind the arc.

The combination of Battier, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers helped the Heat continue to dominate as they only increased their lead to 54-47 by halftime. At that point Miami made 6-for-10 from three-point range while OKC shot a mere 3-of-8.

"We didn't play as well as we liked and they had a lot to do with that," said Brooks. "We had to figure some things out and it took us a quarter and a half but we did that. I thought they responded in the second half and did a good job moving the basketball and keeping a hold of the basketball in the second."

The story of the night was the Thunder's defense and energy after halftime that combined to be the perfect storm against Miami.

OKC keyed in on the little things as they increased dribble penetration, set better screens, decreased turnovers, and they attacked the rim with a fierce intention to score.

The Thunder came out rejuvenated and quickly used the first 4:45 of play to mount a 10-4 run closing the gap to one point.

By the 6:40 mark, Thabo Sefolosha's off balance floater tied the game. Miami went on a short run, but by the end of the quarter, Westbrook's driving layup that also drew a foul was the beginning of the end for Miami.

The Thunder outscored the Heat 27-19 in the third, and went on to score ten more points than Miami in the fourth.

The Heat got within four points, but Durant hit two quick baskets and Westbrook added another for a 10-point lead with 3:35 to go.

James was held to just one basket over the first eight minutes in the fourth quarter. He finished with 30 points—the most he has scored in any of his 11 finals games.

Durant finished 12-of-20 from the field and added eight rebounds.

"(Kevin Durant) is a terrific player and we all know how good he is as a scorer," said Brooks. "He is a special player because he defends…and if he did not defend he wouldn't play much. Bottom line is we are a defensive teams and everyone knows that."

As a team, Oklahoma City had only one turnover in the second half, and shot 51 percent from the field overall. One unusual stat was the team's seven missed free throws, but they made up for it in fast break points outscoring Miami 24-4 and 56-40 in the paint.

Game two will be played Thursday at 8 p.m. in Oklahoma City before the series shifts to Miami for game three on Saturday at 7 p.m.