With its 104-98 loss in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night, the Thunder learned it's just as painful to lose while being ahead as it is when you're constantly coming from behind.
In the first three games of the series, the Miami Heat humiliated OKC by an 82-57 count in the first quarter, during which the Thunder had managed to hold the lead just once, and that was for just 36 seconds.
In Game 4, OKC pounced early with a 33-19 lead after the first period, during which Miami led for just 10 seconds.
The Thunder immediately was in foreign territory, playing from in front rather than playing catch-up from the get-go.
What transpired was a 16-0 run by the Heat in a span of just 3:33 from the end of the first quarter to the 8:30 mark of the second.
From that point forward, the teams nearly played in a dead heat in a game that had 12 lead changes and eight ties.
OKC shot 62.5 percent from the field in the first quarter (15 for 24), but just 43.1 percent (25 for 58) thereafter.
AN OLD FRIEND
A familiar friend returned in the fourth quarter as the Thunder rediscovered its shooting touch at the free-throw line.
OKC shot 70.1 percent from the line in the first three games of the series, but converted 93.8 percent (15 of 16) in Game 4. Trouble was, it was 10 fewer attempts than the Thunder averaged during the regular season.
A NEW ENEMY
The Thunder's shooting woes beyond the 3-point arc continued, however.
OKC shot just 18.8 percent (3 for 16) from 3-point range in Game 4 and is now shooting 27.3 percent (21 for 77) in the Finals.
The Thunder shot 35.8 percent on 3-pointers during the regular season and was shooting 37.4 percent in the playoffs before the Finals.
Miami is shooting 38.9 percent (28 for 72) on 3-pointers in the Finals.
Thunder reserve guard James Harden on the Thunder trailing 3-1 in the Finals: "We've won three games in a row before. It's not going to be easy. We still have one more chance at it."
Russell Westbrook (43) and Kevin Durant combined for 71 of the Thunder's 98 points and were the only OKC players to score in double-figures. ... This marks only the second time this season the Thunder has lost three straight games. … Westbrook's 20 made field goals are the most in an NBA Finals game since Shaquille O'Neal had 21 field goals against Indiana in 2000.
The Heat has retired four jersey numbers, but only two played for the franchise and one didn't even play the sport.
Team president Pat Riley retired Michael Jordan's No. 23 before his final game in Miami during the 2002-03 season as a tribute to his career.
During the 2005-06 season, the organization honored Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino's No. 13 jersey for his contributions to the Miami Dolphins. However, the No. 13 jersey is still available for Heat players.
The two former Heat players to have their (much larger) jersey numbers retired are Alonzo Mourning (No. 33) and on March 30, 2009, and Tim Hardaway (No. 10) on Oct. 28, 2009.
Before the game, Riley was presented the 2012 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented by the National Basketball Coaches Association. Riley also has been honored as the NBA Coach of the Year on three occasions, the only coach in league history to receive the award with three different teams (Los Angeles, New York and Miami).
-- JOHN ROHDE