The Oklahoma City Thunder showed off their resiliency once again in coming back from behind after being down by double figures in the first half. Everything that could lead to a Thunder loss was happening early on. Russell Westbrook was out of control and missing shots, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins weren’t getting enough touches, and the Heat’s supporting cast was on fire, but midway through the second quarter momentum started to shift and the Thunder didn’t relent.
Kevin Durant showed everyone why he was the scoring champ this year in dramatic fashion. After scoring his team’s first eight points he went on to finish with 36 points while shooting 60% from the field. He also added 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Serge Ibaka gave the team a surprising offensive lift in the second quarter scoring 8 of his 10 points in that period.
Westbrook did eventually settle down and settle in to the flow of the game scoring 27 points and dishing out 11 assists. If he hadn’t controlled his emotions and continued playing like he had in the first quarter this game would have ended differently, but his defensive pressure lead to mistakes by the Heat players and easy buckets for the Thunder on the other end.
On the other side of the spectrum the Heat has to feel like one got away here. I understand a 12 point lead in the first half of an NBA game is like a one run lead in the second inningof a baseball game, but the way LeBron James and Dwayne Wade were playing early, combined with Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers’ hot starts it looked as though they would control the game.
Unfortunately for Heat fans this did not last. James and Wade looked out of sync and controlled by the Thunder’s attack defense in the second half and suffered from anemic scoring droughts and poor passing from James. I counted five times in the third quarter alone James tried to fit a pass into a tight space or lob it over Ibaka to try and pass it to Wade only to have the ball stolen each time- this can’t happen if the Heat are going to come back in this series.
Game two will be Thursday night at 9:00 pm Eastern time and it will be interesting to see if the Heat can bounce back and steal one on the road.