Kevin Durant showed LeBron James how to play the fourth quarter in the NBA Finals.
Durant scored 17 of his 36 points in another nightmarish final period for James and his team, leading a Thunder storm that overwhelmed the Heat and gave Oklahoma City a 105-94 victory over Miami in Game 1 on Tuesday night.
Teaming with Russell Westbrook to outscore the Heat in the second half by themselves, Durant struck first in his head-to-head matchup with James, who had seven points in the final quarter and was helpless to stop the league’s three-time scoring champion.
”They didn’t make many mistakes in the fourth quarter,” James said.
Westbrook turned around a poor shooting start to finish with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for the Thunder, keying a strong finish to the third period that gave the Thunder the lead for good.
Durant took over from there.
Scoring in nearly every way possible, Durant finished 12 of 20 from the field and added eight rebounds. He and Westbrook outscored the Heat 41-40 over the final two periods, showing that maybe this time it will be offense that wins championships.
”Those guys they came out on fire. They were passing the ball well, knocking down shots,” Durant said. ”We just wanted to keep playing. It’s a long game.”
James finished with 30 points, his most in any of his 11 finals games, but had only one basket over the first 8:15 of the fourth, when the Thunder seized control of a game they trailed for all but the final few seconds of the first three quarters…
Dwyane Wade had 19 points but shot just 7 of 19 for the Heat, while Shane Battier provided some rare offense by scoring 17 points, his high this postseason.
– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press
The night’s scoring kicked off with a 24-foot, Shane Battier three-point strike 53 seconds into the game and like a boulder pushed down a steep hill, the momentum continued to build. Battier was a man on a mission from tip-off.
The 33-year-old, calm, cool and collected vet continued his long distance assault on the Oklahoma City Thunder for much of the opening quarter.
With 9:27 on the clock, Battier took a feed from Mario Chalmers and zipped a 25 footer in from the left wing.
He’d start 3 of 3 from beyond the arc on the night following a missed strike by OKC’s Kevin Durant. Battier answered the Thunder miss-fire with a decisive 25-foot strike, giving Miami the 17-10 lead early in the game.
Battier finished the first half making 5 of 6 from the field while sinking 3 of 4 three-pointers, scoring 13 points and tallying two rebounds.
– Reported by Chris Wescott, special to the Miami Herald
James and Wade downplayed the loss.
“This was the feel out game,” James said. “We come here with a lot of energy, try to steal Game 1 and now we get an opportunity to go to the chalkboard, go to the film and have a better game plan for Game 2 since we’ve already seen what they’re capable of doing.”
Chris Bosh, who came off the bench, had 10 points and five rebounds in 34 minutes. Shane Battier had 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting. He was 4 of 6 from three-point range. Mario Chalmers had 12 points, including 10 in the first half.
In an eye-opening statistic, the Thunder outscored the Heat 24-4 in fast-break points. Oklahoma City out-rebounded the Heat 43-35 and had 56 points in the paint.
“They’re fast, they’re explosive, so we’ll have to adjust to that,” said Spoelstra, who added the biggest difference between the first and second halves was .
The Heat led the entire first half and the beginning of the third quarter but a driving layup by Thabo Sefolosha tied the score at 60-60 with 6:44 to play. Led by Westbrook, the Thunder outscored the Heat 27-19 in the third quarter. James had nine points in the period and Wade had six but Bosh contributed nothing.
– Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald