Falling short: Miami holds off late Thunder rally to win Game 2
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Friday, June 15, 2012
6/15/12 at 6:32 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY - For the first time this postseason, Oklahoma City Thunder fans disappointedly trudged to the exits of Chesapeake Energy Arena.
A thrilling comeback fell short on Thursday night, and the Miami Heat escaped with a 100-96 Game 2 victory to tie the NBA finals series at 1.
Down by two with 12 seconds left, Thunder star Kevin Durant found himself with the ball as expected. But his 8-foot fadeaway bounced off the rim, and despite apparent contact no foul was called.
"I think I shot a good shot," Durant said. "That's a shot I shoot all the time. I just missed."
The Heat went on to seal the win with a pair of free throws from LeBron James.
"That would have been a nice opportunity for us to make that, or get to the free-throw line and send it to overtime," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "But unfortunately we didn't get the play and we moved on."
The Thunder never led and trailed by 11 points at the start of the fourth quarter, signaling rally time.
Despite playing the final 10 minutes with five fouls, Durant followed his 17-point fourth quarter of Game 1 with 16 points in the final quarter Thursday.
Oklahoma City slowly cut into the Heat lead, and a tip-in from Russell Westbrook got the deficit down to 94-91 with 1:47 remaining.
A minute later, a steal by Derek Fisher prompted a 3-pointer from Durant, and James missed a trey from the top of the key to set up Durant's final shot.
The Thunder again was doomed by a slow start and had to chase the Heat from start to finish. Fifteen points in the first quarter were Oklahoma City's lowest opening-quarter point total this season.
"We have spurts," guard James Harden said. "We played very good Thunder basketball after that slow start.
"We can't keep doing that. It only can work sometimes, when you come back."
Westbrook missed his first six shots and was 2-of-10 shooting in the first half. During the halftime show on ABC, Magic Johnson said it was the worst first-half performance by a point guard he'd ever seen in the NBA finals.
"I just thought I was playing my game, got easy shots that I usually make," Westbrook said. " ... Just unfortunately my shots weren't falling."
As a team, the Thunder opened the game shooting 1-of-12 from the field and trailed 25-8 in the first quarter as Miami was boosted by the starting-lineup return of Chris Bosh, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
"We gave them too many easy shots," Brooks said. "When you miss shots, that's part of the game, but you can't go back on the other end and give them too many easy shots."
A second-quarter 10-2 run sparked by Harden helped Oklahoma City get within eight, but the Heat maintained a surprising 10-0 advantage in fast-break points in the first half. The Thunder didn't get any points off fast breaks until 3:52 remained in the third quarter.
In the second half, Durant buried his first seven shots. He paced Oklahoma City with 32 points, as did James, who also hit all 12 of his free throws.
Westbrook, performing much better after halftime, contributed 27 points and Harden added 21.
Four Heat players scored in double digits. Dwyane Wade had 24 points, and Shane Battier hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. Bosh scored 16.
The Thunder's five-game win streak concluded, as did the team's stretch of nine straight home games with a victory.
The series shifts to Miami for the next three games with Game 3 set for 7 p.m. Sunday.
"This is going to be probably like this every single game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That's the beauty of competition at this level and embracing this competition and seeing what it brings out of you competitively."
2012 NBA FINALS: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER VS. MIAMI HEAT | SERIES TIED 1-1
Another big second half for Thunder.
Late Thunder rally falls short.
at Oklahoma City
at Oklahoma City
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BY THE NUMBERS
Fourth-quarter Miami points scored by players other than the big three.
Miami’s advantage in points in the paint (48-32)
First-quarter shooting by OKC players other than Harden
Original Print Headline: Falling short
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
Miami forward LeBron James flies toward the basket as the Thunder's Serge Ibaka tries to stop his progress during the Heat's Game 2 win Thursday night in Oklahoma City. SUE OGROCKI/Associated Press
The Thunder's Thabo Sefolosha drives during Game 2 of the NBA finals on Thursday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Miami's Chris Bosh dunks during Game 2 of the NBA finals against Oklahoma City. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World