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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Thunder cools the Heat, 105-94

Kevin Durant did in his first NBA Finals game what everyone has been waiting for LeBron James to do in this round-take over in the fourth quarter.

Durant was brilliant down the stretch, scoring 17 of his 36 points in the fourth to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 105-94 win last night in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.

James scored a career Finals high 30 points. But the league MVP had just seven in the fourth and had to listen to the fans chant “M-V-P” for Durant.

The Thunder will try to take a 2-0 lead Thursday night at home, where they are 9-0 this postseason. The series then shifts to Miami for Games 3 and 4 and, if necessary, Game 5.

The Heat led by 13 in the second quarter, but fell apart over the last 25 minutes of the game. Oklahoma City outscored Miami 62-40 in that time as the Heat shot 14-for-37 from the field with eight turnovers.

Russell Westbrook started slowly but finished with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Thabo Sefolosha only had nine points, but his defense on Dwyane Wade and James were instrumental in the Thunder’s victory.

Wade continued his underwhelming postseason. He was 7-for-19 and had 19 points. But Shane Battier gave the Heat a huge lift with 17 points, but it wasn’t enough.

James hit a difficult turnaround bank shot and was fouled with 6:53 left but didn’t convert the foul shot and Miami trailed 84-81. Durant extended the Thunder’s lead to six with a three-point shot on the next possession.

Durant scored seven straight points for the Thunder, which took a 93-83 lead after a Westbrook pull-up jumper with 3:35 to go. A James three-point play made it 97-92 with 1:38 remaining. On the ensuing trip, Durant fed Nick Collison for a dunk to make it a seven-point game.

Other than Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins, none of the young Thunder regulars had played in the Finals before last night. But they didn’t have a deer-in-the-headlights look, having been through so many big games the past two seasons.

Durant was aggressive from the beginning and kept the Thunder close despite Battier’s unexpected offensive explosive that helped Miami lead by as many as 13 in the first half. Battier was 5-for-6 and had 13 points, outscoring everyone on both teams not named James, who had 14.

The Heat let the Thunder shoot 55.6 percent in the first half but led 54-47 at the break. Miami continued to play sluggish defensively in the third, was stagnant on offense as the ball stopped moving and Oklahoma City kept chipping away at the lead.

Durant dished off to Sefolosha for a score inside with 6:44 left in the third to tie the game at 60. The Thunder could have been up at that point but missed a few layups.

After the Thunder tied it, James answered with back-to-back tough scores. Later, with the Heat up two, Battier buried his fourth three of the game off a James feed to make it 69-64. James, who scored nine of the Heat’s 19 points in the third, wasn’t done. He had a driving dunk with 2:35 left to keep Miami up five.

But Miami missed its last four shots and ultimately relinquished the lead in the closing seconds of the third. Westbrook split Miami’s defense, went in for a lefthanded finger roll and was fouled with 16.4 seconds left as the crowd erupted into a frenzy. Westbrook’s foul shot made it 74-73 and gave the Thunder its first lead of the game. They never trailed the rest of the game.

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