It was a game that would probably decide the MVP winner. LeBron James everybody.
James scored 34 points and dished out 10 assists as the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-93 Wednesday night. Kevin Durant scored 30 points but also had nine turnovers.
With 1:01 left Chris Bosh made a jump shot to put the Heat ahead 96-93. With 43 seconds left Kendrick Perkins was fouled on a layup from a baseline out of bounds play but would miss both free throws.
James missed a jumper on the next possession giving Oklahoma City another chance to cut into the three-point deficit.
With 16 seconds left, Durant came off a down screen to the left wing and fired a 27-footer that missed. It was a look that Durant can make but the Thunder had time to go for the two-point shot since they also had two time outs left.
Oklahoma City did not play their best game and struggled for the most part. Again, it was impressive that they were even able to stay in the game so late with their lack of execution on offense and 18 turnovers.
James definitely stole the show as the Heat needed him as much as possible. In the seven minutes James didn’t play, the Thunder outscored Miami by 13.
Russell Westbrook continued his struggles from the floor going 9-for-26 with 28 points, two assists and four turnovers. Westbrook did help the Thunder come back with some big plays in the second half but overall he was out of sync for most of the night.
The game had the feel of a playoff matchup with the Thunder committing a couple of hard fouls in the first half. First Perkins came down hard on Dwyane Wade’s head and received a technical. Then Westbrook hit James hard from behind on a fast break receiving a flagrant two.
Those plays seemed to wake up the Heat who were noticeably more aggressive than they were in the first meeting between these teams. Miami shot nine more free throws than the Thunder tonight and James shot 13 after shooting just one 10 days ago against the Thunder.
James Harden played well for Oklahoma City but they needed more of him. He scored 12 points to go with five assists and five boards but didn’t aggressively penetrate as much as he usually does, especially when Wade was covering him.
Oklahoma City had their best moments on offense with Harden in the pick-and-roll and Westbrook playing off the ball.
The Thunder played very physical from the start and blocked four shots in the first eight minutes of the game with Serge Ibaka accounting for three of them. They would only have four the rest of the game and Miami always seemed to take advantage of the small units Oklahoma City had out there by scoring in the paint and outrebounding them.
The defense wasn’t the same it was the first time the Thunder played Miami. Durant didn’t seem as locked in on James and that allowed for James to get to the rim more.
Miami seems to have the best answer for defending Oklahoma City’s big three. Wade does a nice job on Westbrook, James can be physical with Durant and Battier gives Harden fits.
The things that usually go right at home went right for the Heat tonight and vice versa for the Thunder in the first meeting. The Heat shot well from three with James, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier each making three triples. Miami also probably got a few more 50-50 calls and in a game decided by five points or less, that is big.
There is no reason for alarm for the Thunder with this loss. Miami is obviously one of the best teams in the league and in the season series both teams did what they were supposed to. They each protected their home court and that’s how it goes sometimes.
The Thunder are off tomorrow night and then will play in Indiana Friday night for their next game.