Thunder At A Loss After Singed By Heat

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Where to start with this one? How about with a statement: LeBron James and the Miami Heat have no peer.

Make no mistake by the relatively close final score, 110-100, in favor of the Heat. They never trailed, led by 15 points 10 minutes into the game, by as much as 23 in the third quarter and by 19 entering the fourth quarter. Don’t be misguided by Kevin Durant‘s 40 points on 12-for-24 shooting. KD opened the game 0-for-7 against a searing Miami defense led by James and a double-team that hounded his every move and forced him into 2-for-10 at the half.

Give the three-time scoring champ and the clubhouse leader headed into the All-Star break credit for his 22 fourth-quarter points, for staying in the game after taking a nasty fall late in the first quarter when the Thunder were already being run over, for never leaving the game until he fouled out with 28.4 seconds to go. Give credit to Russell Westbrook (26 points, 10 assists, six turnovers), who said he was more surprised at their start than disappointed, and the rest of the Thunder crew for clawing to the end.

But this, this was a Valentine’s Day massacre of the highest order.

“Maybe it was nerves or we were too excited, I don’t know, man,” Durant said. “That was the game, I think, that first quarter. We kept fighting and fighting, battling uphill, but that’s tough to do against a championship-caliber team.”

OKC, 22-3 at home coming into this one, simply doesn’t get dismantled inside its raucous gym that was super-charged Thursday night. Plus, the Heat came in a pedestrian 12-11 on the road without so much as a signature win to boast.

Now they have one. And in doing so they made it six in a row, 2-zip this season, over the Thunder going back to last June’s Finals.

“Obviously, they’ve been dominating us for the last six games,” Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said. “So if we do meet again, it’s a problem we’ve got to deal with and figure it out.”

The Thunder wanted this game badly, they said so beforehand. Last one before the break, national television showcase, a chance to notch a 40th win, but mostly to, yes, make a statement that they can go toe-to-toe with their elder, more battle-tested superstars in red and take them out.

Yet on their home floor, the Thunder didn’t as much lay an egg as simply get bullied into submission by a more ferocious foe.

Statement: Miami.

This loss, on the heels of the sour defeat at Utah two nights earlier, will sting for a week until OKC next plays. It might even hurt all the way to June, provided the Thunder’s wonder kids can again lead them out of the West and into the Finals rematch that most want to see. Because the Heat will represent the East.

“We didn’t just want to come in here and not play well and allow them to do what they wanted us to do,” said James, who crafted another masterful performance with 39 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and a couple steals in 40 minutes. “We came in with a high level. Mentally we were in tune from the beginning and it was a really good roll that we finished.”

The roll James is alluding to is a seven-game win streak that lifts Miami to 36-14 at the break. Another roll came to an end. James’ remarkable six-game run of scoring 30 points and shooting 60 percent was ready to make it to seven until he put up a 28-footer from straightaway to beat the shot clock with 1:02 left in the game. He was at 60.9 percent before the surprising heave, which knocked him down to an oh-so substandard 58.3 percent.

James was simply awesome again, coolly sinking an array of shots as he ratcheted up the range of difficulty from previous games in the streak. In the final two minutes of the second quarter, he hit four consecutive scintillating jumpers — a 25-footer for 3, a 22-foot stepback over Durant, a 20-foot stepback and then another 3 for a 61-43 lead with 24.3 to go in the first half.

“He had a great game,” Durant said. “He made tough shots, man, one-leggers, fadeaways and corners, 3s, so you got to tip your hat to that.”

Lost in LeBron-imania are some sidekicks compiling amazing stats of their own. Chris Bosh continued his excellent and overshadowed play with a dominant first half and finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds — five offensive, two key ones to extend possessions in the fourth as the Thunder rallied — and three blocked shots. He went 10-for-14 from the floor and is shooting a familiar-sounding 55.5 percent on the season.

Dwyane Wade, also shooting better than 50 percent on the season had an off-night with 13 points and fouled out with 3:29 to go with the Thunder still fighting, down 104-92. With the score 104-94, James took Serge Ibaka, quiet all night, off the dribble, bounded to the left and floated in a 14-foot leaner off one leg. Moments later he threw down an alley-oop from Ray Allen for the final punctuation.

OKC would get the deficit under 10 with less than a minute to go for the first time since it was 22-13 with 4:10 to go in the first quarter. There just wasn’t anybody to pick up the slack. Sixth man Kevin Martin had nine points on just five shot attempts. Ibaka had six points and six boards.

The Thunder made just three 3s and got their clocks cleaned on the boards. If not for going 33-for-34 from the free throw line, the score never would have been as close.

“I’m not discounting what they did, but we’re not as bad as we played tonight,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “They made us play this way. You have to give them credit. We’re not as bad and give them credit.”

47 Comments

  1. Save Nash Please says:

    @LAL True Fan
    Lakers Big Market, Highest spender…. Mediocre Team hahahahahha You make us LAUGH!!! uLOLs!!!! That’s a laugh Trip!!!! 25-29 0.463 10th place in WEST lakers BIG Market hahahahha Billion Dollar Move 1 cent finish…

  2. Willy says:

    OKC cannot win it all with Harden, bottom line! He takes, or took so much ball pressure off of RW and KD. Unsung hero. The money they would have paid in taxes to keep him would have come back tenfold had they waited one more year. I think, in hind sight it was a huge mistake not to try just one more year. Anyways sorry for OKC cuz they aint gonna win it again.

  3. wait, the reason why I would like to have thabeet as a starter is because, the Miami Heat are struggling against Hibbert becuse of his shoot blocking and post move. so i think thabeet is a better shoot blocker (base on his college stats) and also has a very good size to post up miami’s Bosh

  4. MJfromOKC says:

    Ive been watching our team all year. We do great against the bottom teams and struggle to win against good teams. There have been exceptions to that but not many. The weakness is our bench. Its not anything else. Scott Brooks literally has 7 players he can work with. Perkins is all but useless against Miami. He is really, really bad offensively for NBA standards. Ibaka needs to go learn how to score in the post and then we can trade Perk. I like his defense presence during the regular season against a lot of teams but we need a more efficient scorer in the post. It would be nice if we had a decent small forward to come of the bench. Reggie Jackson cannot hang as Russells backup. Eric Maynor is a shadow of himself after his injury. If we dont make a trade in the next 6 days we will get beat out early in the playoffs.

  5. dattebayo says:

    People keep mentioning, that the Heat are playing in a weaker conference and that their record isn’t that great and that they would only be the 4th or 5th seed in the West. As of now, the Heat have played the Eastern and Western Conference 25 times each and the Heat are 20-5 against the West. That is the best percentage of any team against the Western Conference. 2 of those losses were by 1 point (against the Dubs and at the Blazers). Next best are the Thunder with 27-7.

  6. jason says:

    @marcelkang

    you do realize every team in the nba plays the same amount of games right? and if the heat want to rest their stars then its up to them. okc could do the same because i think they are a team that could win without homecout advantage against teams like the spurs. im not a big heat fan but you just sound like a bitter hater.

  7. dan cruz says:

    as of now, only clippers has the chance to beat miami. not s a , okc , or lakers.

  8. Dwade says:

    Heat promise of multiple champions under D’wade and company….FU

  9. Ciaran Roach says:

    Calibre*

  10. Reid says:

    Why does this writer say to “not be misguided” by KD’s 40 points at 50% fg? The guy scored 40 points and shot 50%, regardless of his opening dry spell. I’m not an OKC fan, and I’m certainly not a Miami fan, but Kevin Durant is a scoring machine. Lebron’s a scorer, but he’s not a pure scorer. He uses his size and strength to his advantage, which is what he should do, but KD is a more pure scorer. He’s just not surrounded by the same talent that LBJ is. And Miami isn’t a shoo-in for the East. Indiana’s beaten them twice this year already, and they’re playing without their best player. And Paul George is one of the best defending small forwards in the game. I could see the Pacers edging the Heat in 7 games. Chicago too. With or without D Rose. Knicks, ehh. I’m not a believer. But there are teams in the east that could beat the Heat. They’re not invincible.

  11. Game Time says:

    If there are any Indiana fans still thinking they have a chance just don’t get your hopes up too high. Miami has been cruising while playing your team. They only show up for teams they need too. Sorry Indy, but you’re not worth the trouble.

    • KunJayMaster says:

      Actually Indy has a shot…the times they’ve played Miami they’ve been hitting on all cylinders. But just like the Knicks can they do it successfully in a 4 times in a 7 game series? Possible..not probable. But well hopefully Indy and Knicks can kill each others first.

  12. dattebayo says:

    Is it just me or was the officiating brutally in favor of the Thunder? Those fouls, where Kevin Durant lost the ball while driving, James double foul and Wades 6th foul were just ridiculous. And most people think the Heat own the refs…

  13. Robert says:

    Not at all a Heat Fan, but watched last night and was really sad that LeBron had to miss 2 of those deep threes, would’ve been cool to see the streak continue

  14. What the heck LJ u just had to take that shoot didn’t u??? Lol.. That’s shows to the world of B-ball that LJ is truly a great master piece! MJ is mad n KB is bad n KD is sad n LJ is glad!
    Gaaaaah!

  15. Save Nash Please says:

    @LAL

    Yes they have no chance…. That’s the MAVERICKS that CRUSHED your lakers on a 4 game SWEEP too… I guess your lakers won’t participate on playoffs so what’s your point????

  16. joey boy says:

    trade KEVIN MARTIN & PERKINS for TREVOR ARIZA & OKAFOR… for more effective…

    • NO, trade perk. for a 2nd round draft pick and start Thabeet. because he still has a potential as a former 2nd overall pick

      • KunJayMaster says:

        Guys get serious…They have the right people the execution is what is incorrect. You cant beat Miami 1v1 you have to move the ball and force Miami’s D into multiple rotations because 1 rotation won’t cut it due to their speed. If you see the game it’s Westbrook or Durant playing 1v1 hence the high amount of turn overs. Thunder only solidified as a serious contender when they acquired Perkins and this kid Kev Martin is no Harden but he can make 3’s which is what they need if once again they can execute correctly.

      • wait, the reason why I would like to have thabeet as a starter is because, the Miami Heat are struggling against Hibbert becuse of his shoot blocking and post move. so i think thabeet is a better shoot blocker (base on his college stats) and also has a very good size to post up miami’s Bosh

  17. LAL says:

    Heat will represent the East…so the Knicks who are playing a lot like the Mavericks team that dismantled Miami in 2011 Finals have no chance against them?

    • KunJayMaster says:

      People been saying the “You live by the 3 you die by the 3″ since the Knicks started…They were red hot at the beginning raining 3’s specially against Miami. Now they’ve cooled off you can see what they really are about…a system that relies a lot on 3 pointers and is way too inconsistent. Not saying they couldn’t beat Miami but shooting lights out in 4 of 7 games against a sick Miami D…possible…not really probable.

  18. Bulls are rose says:

    it seems that the Heat is the only team in NBA who is capable of beating OKC in 3 or 4 consecutive games

  19. stofstar says:

    The Heat have taken it easy for most of the season, just because they can, especially in the east. They save it up for the playoffs where the rings are won. They live up for the important games, but what’s the use of the best record during the season if you don’t win the ring at the end.
    I expect more of this kind of games near the end of the season, as they prepare for the Finals.

  20. Marco29 says:

    Nice win by Miami that gives them more credit as one of the lague’s top teams this season. Since they have no real competition in the Eastern Conference, more than their record (which is not so brilliant, playing most games against teams in their dvision with a combined .347 PCT and in a conference with a combined PCT of .452) it is games against the best teams in the West that give a real indication of the Heat’s level.Currenlty, they are 4-1 in games against OKC, SAS and LAC which is a true statement for the postseason.
    OKC is clearly not their best opponent loosing 6 in a row. Their offense is too unbalanced, relying almost only on KD and Westbrook and they don’t get enough contribution from Ibaka and Perkins while everybody knows the Heat”s weakness is in the paint with a lack of centimeters. Also their bench is not contributing enough and was outscored 26-16 with only 2 players scoring on OKC side.
    LAC and SAS are therefore better contenders for the Heat. LAC split the games and lost last week with a diminished CP3. They have the inside power and the bench to cause serious issues. As for SAS, everybody remembers the bench players almost won in Miami in this famous November game. They have the defense, the bench and inside presence to really contend with the Heat. Next game in San Antonio on March 31st will be an interesting one to watch (none of the 2 teams will play a back to back, so injury aside, we should see full rosters on both sides).
    As for the finals, even though everybody wants to see KD vs LBJ and the rematch of last year, I think it would be a more interesting series if the Heat would face the Spurs or even the Clippers.

    • Popo says:

      You actually have a sensible post, but if OKC really had all those flaws, they wouldn’t have made it to the Finals last year and made all but one game so interesting. Seeing as how 5/7 games between the two teams have been decided with 6 or less points, they are the best matchup. Spurs and Clippers will have to make it out of a series with the Thunder to get to the Heat. NBA fans are very shortsighted.

      • Marco29 says:

        For sure, OKC has far more qualities than flaws and are an elite team. Any Western team will have to beat them to advance to The Finals. Maybe OKC has an edge over SAS and LAC but it doesn’t mean that they have the best weapons to beat MIA. It is a question of matchup. OKC could actually do MIA a favor by beating SAS and LAC in the Western Play-offs cause MIA has the best chances to re-peat if they face OKC in The Finals.

  21. Gillsy says:

    What is missing from OKC that the Heat, Knicks, Clippers or Spurs have, a bench. When OKC’s 1-2 punch don’t perform that’s it. Usually it’s not a problem when Durant, Westbrook play ok with Serge and Kevin Martin throwing up a few points. But come playoffs they will need depth where do they go. I am not necessarily saying that keeping Harden was the answer. But a few Ray Allen type players would help. It reminds me of the way people approached the old Bulls. Let Jordan have his 40 make Pippen and Co have the game from hell. With OKC let Durant have his 40 (not saying he is Jordan) but make Westbrook and the rest of the team have a terrible game. Yes Westbrook may get 20 but he will probably miss as many shots and have as many turnovers. Than crack it at the end .

  22. Heat#6Nation says:

    Damn you LeBRON, U just had to take that jumper didn´t you!!?? it could have been 7 games in a row shooting over 60%, U just had to ruin it with your 58.3%….lol. This is the reason why I find his latest record genuine, anyone else would have said “no, I need high percentage shots not to get below 60% and stuff” but he was taking jumpers and deep 3´s like crazy, respect. Its just ridiculous how good this dude is becoming that people look at him with such high expectations now. I really dont see anyone else taking the MVP honors. Am sure the Thunder will end up with a better record, but Durant wont get MVP I think. We´ll see, now I´ll just lean back and relax, watch the Allstar weekend. Honestly, I hope for more show downs to come. Long live the Heat/Thunder rivalry.

    • Popo says:

      So well said. Salute Heat fan!

    • Robbie says:

      You echoed my sentiments exactly..he wasn’t so much into the record bit.He was so much for the W.Amazing!

    • In the Heat says:

      It confirms his respons to an interview about Jordan stating that he’d take Kobe over LeBron.

      James said that he is not playing for the stats. He is playing for his team and he is playing to win. Stats and records come by themselves. I think it is a shame that James will not hammer this record all the way down for now – it could happen later with 7 consecutive 30+ on 60% – but somehow I feel this really speaks for the player. He’s dedicated to winning. That shot was perhaps not necessary, but why really take the chance? I respect his decision. Had he hit the 3 he would have been praised to the skies. There’s no grounds for disappointment here. Admire the King for his way of thinking.

    • 8 says:

      Not a fan of Lebron but I agreed on him not that into stats rather than get a win and get his teamates involve. This guy is another Magic Johnson in the making. Only stronger, faster

  23. Adrian Lopez says:

    Scott: You mean you’re not as good as you think. Payback to the Spurs.

  24. marcelkang says:

    how come the heat had played only 50 games while OKC had 53? The Heat will go more relaxed into the playoff since they’re playing in a weak conference and will relaxe most of their core players at the end of RS. OKC, Clips and the Spurs will need to play their full roster battling for the nr.1 seat in the west.. lucky heat

    • Ermal says:

      The Heat are 20 – 5 vs the western conference teams

    • Popo says:

      You gigantic fool. Everyone plays the same amount of games with each conference. Every team has a series with one another. Poppovich sometimes sits out his stars and with exception of Parker, they play less minutes. Not lucky Heat, talented Heat.

      • Logic says:

        Who are you calling a fool? LMAO. You’re the one that’s too dumb to know the fact that teams in the same conference usually play each other 4 games a year (3 for some), while teams from different conferences play each other twice at most.

      • Scott The Magician says:

        lol

  25. rose and kobe fan says:

    wow lebron is just WOW..amazing..