Miami • A week ago, they were leadin g the NBA Finals. And now, the Oklahoma City Thunder are heading home for the summer to ruminate over lessons doled out by the Miami Heat.
Favorites coming into the series, the Thunder fell in Game 5 of the finals Thursday night, as Miami finished off its run to a championship by beating the Thunder 121-106. Oklahoma City’s 11-point win in Game 1 is long forgotten and irrelevant now, considering that for the first time in more than three years, the Thunder have lost four straight games.
At the absolute worst time, on the absolute biggest stage, no less.
“When you play against the best, you learn,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Kevin Durant collected 32 points and 11 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook finished with 19 points for the Thunder, though Westbrook’s night — one game removed from a 20-for-32 performance from the field — came on a night where he shot 4-for-20. They came out with 4:44 left, the outcome long decided, the Heat fans going delirious.
“We made it to the Finals, which was cool for us, but we didn’t want to just make it there,” Durant said. “Unfortunately we lost, so it’s tough. It’s tough, man. That’s the only way I can explain it. But as a whole, I’m proud of the guys on how we fought all season.”
James Harden scored 19 points and Derek Fisher added 11 for the Thunder.
The Thunder came in saying they had to have that proverbial Game 7 — win or else — mentality.
Apparently, they chose else.
“You hate to go home and not win the whole thing. ... We lost to a team that played better than us in four of the five games,” Brooks said.