Durant, Westbrook lead Thunder to Game 1 win
Web linksUnited States basketball at the Olympics
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant did in his first NBA Finals game what everyone has been waiting for LeBron James to do in this round: take over in the fourth quarter.
Durant was brilliant down the stretch, scoring 17 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter and outdueling James to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 105-94 win Tuesday night in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
James, the league MVP, scored a career Finals-high 30 points. But he shot 11-for-24 and had just seven in the fourth and had to listen to the loud Oklahoma City fans chant "M-V-P" for Durant late in the game.
"KD is a terrific player,'' Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He is a special player.''
Westbrook helped lead the Thunder back from a 13-point second-quarter deficit. After a slow start, he finished with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Wade continued his underwhelming postseason by his standards. He was 7-for-19 with 19 points and got testy when asked about his inconsistent play.
"I'm a winner, so I'm going to continue to do whatever I can to help my team win," Wade said. "One night I'm going to have a big night scoring. Some nights I'm going to have big nights doing other things. Just doing whatever it takes to win the ballgame, not necessarily sitting here worrying about scoring 30 points. I know that's going to make you guys feel better. I'm all about winning."
Now Durant and the Thunder are three wins away from winning the championship. The Thunder will try to take a 2-0 lead Thursday at home, where they are 9-0 this postseason. The series then shifts to Miami for Games 3 and 4 and, if necessary, Game 5.
"It's a long series," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "This group has toughness. It has resolve. We do have a toughness to be able to bounce back."
The Heat will have to adjust to keep the Thunder out of the paint and transition. Oklahoma City had 56 points in the paint and outscored Miami 24-4 in fast-break points.
Miami was up 11 in the final minute of the first half, but fell apart over the last 25 minutes of the game.
Oklahoma City outscored Miami 62-40 in that time as the Heat shot 14-for-37 from the field with eight turnovers. Durant and Westbrook outscored Miami by three points during that span. Thabo Sefolosha had nine points, but his defense on Wade and James were instrumental in the Thunder's win.
"About halfway through the fourth quarter we were thinking we were putting ourselves in position to win," Spoelstra said. "And then they just went away. That's what they do. They keep on coming. They're relentless."
James hit a difficult turnaround bank shot and was fouled with 6:53 left, but didn't convert the free throw and Miami trailed 84-81. Durant extended the Thunder's lead to six with a three-point shot.
Durant scored seven straight points for the Thunder, which took a 93-83 lead after a Westbrook pull-up jumper with 3:35 to go. A James' three-point play made it 97-92 with 1:38 remaining. On the ensuing trip, Durant fed Nick Collison for a dunk to make it a seven-point game.
"I'm not trying to force anything," Durant said. "For this whole playoffs, I'm just trying to play my game, be aggressive. If I see a shot I have to take it and if I see a pass I have to pass it."
Said James: "They made more plays, especially offensively. They made more shots."