We’ve seen this story before. It was only a few months ago in the NBA Finals that the script played out the same way: the Thunder got out to a slow start, clawed their way back, then couldn’t close.
The Miami Heat would win the game 103-97 when it was all said and done.
Kevin Durant scored 33 points to lead the Thunder with 25 of those points coming in the second half. He again found himself in foul trouble in the first half that did no help at all to a scrambling Thunder team unable to contain their energy after four days off.
Durant went 9-of-11 from the free throw line but one of the misses came with 1:07 left in the game and the Thunder trailing by four. Durant missed a three with 10 seconds left that could have tied it. The rebound was then tipped out and Russell Westbrook then missed a desperation three where he was looking for a foul.
LeBron James was his usual calculated self picking apart the Thunder defense to the tune of 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. LeBron scored 19 in the first half and it was a quiet game all in all for him, but super effective nonetheless.
Nobody embodied the wild approach to the game as much as Westbrook who finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and only three assists. He shot 5-for-19 from the field and turned the ball over five times. He seemed to kill the Thunder at times but mostly the feeling is that there is no way the Thunder would have been close without him.
Each of the Heat Big 3 played well but it was Mario Chalmers that proved to be the real difference. He averages less than seven points per game but scored 20 and made four threes today. He’s always been a big game player and today he decided it would be another big one for him.
The Thunder lose the game despite shooting twice as many free throws as the Heat, who did make all 19 of their attempts.
Kevin Martin scored 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting off the bench for the Thunder, who only played eight players in the game.
It’s the second straight loss for the Thunder who had won 11 in a row prior.
They are now tied for the best record in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers but this loss feels like they dropped down further than that. The Thunder wanted this one and they played hard but this matchup is a little too tough for just effort to win out.
We will quickly forget about this devastating loss until of course OKC hosts Miami Feb. 14.