Heat Scorch Thunder To Even Season Series
The Miami Heat gained a measure of revenge against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at Chesapeake Arena, routing OKC 103-81 to get a split in the season series.
Even with the return of Russell Westbrook, back after almost two months out following his third knee surgery, the Thunder couldn’t keep pace with the two-time defending NBA champions.
The Thunder had beaten Miami January 29th in Miami, rallying from a big early deficit to win 112-95.
Once again, the Heat got off to a quick start, but this time there was no Thunder comeback.
After OKC scored the first four points of the game, Miami went on a 22-4 run, sparked by nine first quarter turnovers from OKC, and incredibly hot shooting by the Heat, who made 76 percent of their shots in the opening period.
Miami’s lead was 34-17 after the first quarter, and it grew to to 19 early in the second quarter, before the Thunder responded with an 8-0 run to trim the lead.
The Thunder trailed 54-47 at halftime, and after making the first basket of the third quarter, were trailing by only five.
OKC never got closer than that, as Miami went on a 16-2 run to blow the game open again.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins had to leave the game early in the third quarter with a groin injury and only played eight minutes in the game.
OKC tried to respond late in the 3rd, with a 12-1 run to get within 13 points.
But an 8-0 Miami run built the lead back to 19 and the Heat were in control the rest of the way.
LeBron James led Miami with 33 points, adding 7 rebounds.
James had to leave the game midway through the fourth quarter after suffering a cut on his face on a drive to the basket that resulted in a dunk.
James appeared to be hit across the face by Serge Ibaka, and went to the floor, where blood was pouring out of his face.
He left the court with a towel covering his face and did not return.
Miami’s other parts of the “Big Three,” Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, both scored 24 points.
Wade added 10 assists and 7 rebounds, while Bosh had 8 rebounds and made 11 of 12 free throws.
Kevin Durant led OKC with 28 points, but was ineffective shooting, hitting just one of six from three-point range.
Westbrook scored 16 points, but was clearly rusty and not in rhythm, making just 4 of 12 shots and dishing out just 2 assists.
Serge Ibaka was the only other Thunder player in double figure scoring with 14 points and 8 rebounds.
The Thunder finished the game by making just 38 percent of their shots and committed 20 turnovers.
Miami shot 55 percent from the field, with 15 of the OKC turnovers coming off Heat steals.
The loss was OKC’s worst at home this season, and drops them to 43-13 for the year.
The Thunder host the Los Angeles Clippers at noon on Sunday.