Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and Miami Heat small forward Shane Battier go after a loose ball during the first half at Game 1 of the NBA finals basketball series, Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Gallery: Durant powers Thunder past LeBron’s Heat 105-94

First Published Jun 12 2012 09:52 pm • Last Updated Jun 13 2012 07:48 am

OKLAHOMA CITY • Kevin Durant keeps insisting these NBA Finals are Thunder against Heat, not him against LeBron James.

So far, his side is winning both matchups.

Photos

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Durant delivered the fourth quarter his counterpart never could last year, scoring 17 of his 36 points and leading a Thunder storm that overwhelmed Miami and gave Oklahoma City a 105-94 victory in Game 1 on Tuesday night.

James and the Heat started well against the young Thunder, who acknowledged some first finals nerves.

They’ve already figured out finishing, Durant showing James how a superstar is supposed to play in the fourth quarter.

"Well, those guys, they came out on fire. They were passing the ball well, knocking down shots. We just wanted to continue to keep playing," Durant said. "It’s a long game, and every time our coach was just saying play harder, play harder, and that’s what we did."

Teaming with Russell Westbrook to outscore the Heat in the second half by themselves, Durant struck first in his head-to-head matchup with James, who had seven points in the final quarter and was helpless to stop the league’s three-time scoring champion.

Westbrook turned around a poor shooting start to finish with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for the Thunder, keying a strong finish to the third period that gave the Thunder the lead for good.

Durant took over from there.

Scoring in nearly every way possible, Durant finished 12 of 20 from the field and added eight rebounds. He and Westbrook outscored the Heat 41-40 over the final two periods, showing that maybe this time it will be offense that wins championships.


story continues below
story continues below

"That’s what they do, they keep on coming," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They’re relentless."

James finished with 30 points, the most in any of his 11 finals games, but had only one basket over the first 8:15 of the fourth, when the Thunder seized control of a game they trailed for all but the final few seconds of the first three quarters.

James averaged just three points in the fourth quarters of the Heat’s six-game loss to Dallas last year, taking almost all the blame for Miami’s finals failure. He was good in this one, Durant was just better.

"They didn’t make many mistakes in the fourth quarter," James said.

And when fans chanted "MVP! MVP!" late in the game, they weren’t talking about James, the guy who won the regular-season award.

They meant Durant, who is in a race with James for his first ring — and maybe the title of best player in the game.

Game 2 is Thursday night in Oklahoma City.

Dwyane Wade had 19 points but shot just 7 of 19 for the Heat, while Shane Battier provided some rare offense by scoring 17 points, his high this postseason.

Turning to a small lineup late in the third quarter, the Thunder improved to 9-0 at home in the postseason. Defensive ace Thabo Sefolosha helped defend James during the Thunder’s comeback, relieving Durant of the burden so he could focus on his scoring.

And right now, nobody does it better.

Spoelstra said his team, pushed to seven games against Boston in a grueling conference finals the Heat finally won Saturday, preferred this quick turnaround. But perhaps they ran out of gas against the young Thunder, whose core players are all 23 and younger and look as if they could keep playing all night.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.