Thunder tops Heat in Game 1 of NBA Finals
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com June 13, 2012 12:20AM
Heat vs. Thunder
Thunder leads series 1-0
All games on Ch. 7, 1000-AM.
G1: at Thunder 105, Heat 94
Thursday: at Thunder, 8 p.m.
Sunday: at Heat, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: at Heat, 8 p.m.
x-June 21: at Heat, 8 p.m.
x-June 24: at Thunder, 7 p.m.
x-June 26: at Thunder, 8 p.m.
Updated: July 14, 2012 6:38AM
OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s a team game, sure. But that old-school adage can’t trump the NBA reality that is trending today: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
won Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade lost it.
As unfair as that might be, that’s the monster the NBA has created as super athletes have become the superstars. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s 105-94 come-from-
behind victory Tuesday against the Miami Heat at Chesapeake
Energy Arena had typical twists and unsung heroes befitting an NBA
Finals: The Thunder’s Nick Collison had more dunks than James.
But it came down to this: When James and Wade were virtually
silent in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter of a tight game (2-for-9, four points), Durant was scoring 13 of his 36 points and Westbrook four of his 27 as the Thunder turned a 74-73 lead into a 93-83 edge with 3:29 left.
‘‘It starts with us being a great defensive team,’’ Westbrook said. ‘‘That’s what guys don’t realize about this team. We’re defense first. At the start of the third quarter, that’s when we started playing our game, Thunder basketball.’’
James and Wade couldn’t disagree. The Heat shot 51 percent in the first half (22-for-43) and 40 percent in the second (14-for-35).
Durant guarded James for most of the game. But former Bulls swingman Thabo Sefolosha defended James during the fourth-quarter stretch when Durant hammered the Heat on offense.
‘‘In the third quarter, they did a good job of turning up their
defensive pressure and made it a one-possession game,’’ Wade said. ‘‘They just made more plays than us. They got some offensive rebounds, and they kind of hurt us. From that point, we were playing from behind.’’
James finished with 30 points on 11-for-24 shooting and nine
rebounds, and Wade added 19 points on 7-for-19 shooting with eight assists. But they only could carry the Heat so far.
The Heat led by 11 points in the last minute of the first half before settling for a 54-47 edge at the break. Even after Westbrook and Durant rallied the Thunder to a 60-all tie, James scored on back-to-back drives and on a continuation drive, missing a three-point-play opportunity but giving the Heat a 71-66 lead with 2:35 left in the
It was all Westbrook and Durant
from there. The Thunder duo combined for 29 of the team’s next 31 points until it led 97-89 with 1:53 left.
‘‘We had a good game plan to start the game,’’ James said. ‘‘That third quarter hurt us.’’
But it was the fourth quarter that made the difference. It couldn’t be ignored that Durant came through in the clutch and James didn’t.
‘‘I think they made shots and we missed,’’ James said. ‘‘They didn’t make many mistakes in the fourth quarter. I didn’t think we made many mistakes in the fourth quarter, either, but they made more plays.’’
The Thunder got a huge lift from the unheralded Collison, a veteran who scored eight points and grabbed 11 rebounds — not including plays where he tipped balls to teammates. Collison kept one ball alive that led to a basket by Sefolosha that gave the Thunder a 78-73 lead with 10:11 left. He tipped
another ball out that led to a crushing three-pointer by Durant that gave the Thunder an 87-81 lead with 6:27 left.