OKLAHOMA CITY — One down, three to go, and Oklahoma City will have a World Championship parade.
The Thunder rallied from 13 points down for a 105-94 win over the Miami Heat in the opening game of the 2012 NBA Finals Tuesday night at the sold-out Chesapeake Energy Arena in OKC.
It has now become a “trend,” the Thunder gets off to a slow start, trails most of the first half and then rolls with a monster fourth quarter for the impressive victory.
Such was the case again on Tuesday night, even though Miami had the lead most of the game until a Russell Westbrook 3-point play gave the Thunder a 74-73 leading after three periods.
In the fourth Quarter, guess who took over? If you said the three-time NBA leading scorer, you’d win the right to advance on Jeopardy!
Kevin Durant took only one shot in the second quarter (a driving slam dunk) and only three attempts in the third quarter before erupting for 17 of his game high 36 points in the final stanza as the Thunder won going away, even though OKC didn’t play particularly well.
James Harden had, arguably, the worst game of his post-season with just 5 points and 4 fouls in 22 unproductive minutes of play.
But Westbrook missed by two rebounds having a triple-double after a brilliant final half led to a 27-point, 11-assist, 8-rebound night to back up Durant’s late flurry.
In all, the dandy duo of Durant and Westbrook outscored the entire Miami team 41-40 in the second half.
Nick Collison was superb off the bench with 8 points and 10 boards and Thabo Sefolosha was the unsung star of the night with his lock-down defense on Lebron James, when it counted, in the fourth quarter.
The NBA’s “Most Valuable Player” had 23 points through three quarters but Sefolosha made “King James” work for everything he got (or didn’t get) in holding the Miami superstar to just seven points in the final quarter as the Thunder pulled away.
Dwyane Wade struggled with his shooting (again), hitting just 7-of-19 shots and afterwards shrugged off any thoughts of panic, saying his team is still very confident and will make the proper adjustments in Game 2.
Lebron James called the opener “the feel-out game” and also said he feels good about Miami’s chances in Thursday night’s second game.
The Heat will watch tape Wednesday and realize OKC didn’t play very well at all, missed a ton of open looks, clanged seven free throw attempts off the rim and STILL made it look easy at the end.
The Heat only played six players more than 10 game minutes and head coach Eric Spoelstra guaranteed more guys will see more action Thursday.
Expect Chris Bosh to start for Miami after coming in off the bench in Game 1 but also expect James Harden to return to his “6th Man Of The Year” status to join the Thunder storm to Florida with what could be a 2-0 series lead.
Another key to Tuesday’s win? OKC turned the ball over just two times the entire final half and outscored the Heat on the fast break (24-4) and inside the lane (56-40), still two more HUGE reasons the Heat may be cooled quicker than anyone imagined.
But it’s still just one game…
(-Bob Barry Jr. @ “The Peake” downtown OKC)