Heat 104, Thunder 98
Nuggets from my notebook from Tuesday’s Game 4 loss at Miami.
- It ain’t how you start. It’s how you finish. Boy, oh boy, has that ever been truer than tonight for the Thunder?
- The Thunder finally got the start it wanted. It wasn’t a good start. It was a great start. OKC led 33-19 after one quarter and was rolling. And then disaster struck.
- Miami went on a 16-0 run…a 16-0 run…from the end of the first period until the 8:30 mark of the second quarter. Right then, it looked like it wouldn’t be the Thunder’s night.
- Kendrick Perkins with some interesting words. “I just don’t understand why we start out the first quarter the way we did, with the lineup that we had, and all of a sudden we change and adjust to what they had going on. So they won the last three quarters, and that’s what happened. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
- Russell Westbrook played one of the best games of his life. And many will focus on the foul he committed on Mario Chalmers in the final 14 seconds. Just like Sefolosha’s steal and dunk before the final turnover in Game 3, this can be a tough, tough game.
- Westbrook scored 43 points, a playoff career high. That’s three more than he scored in a triple-overtime win at Memphis last postseason and two shy of his regular-season best.
- This one wouldn’t have been close without Westbrook. Don’t let anybody tell you different.
- For the second straight game, Kevin Durant struggled in the fourth quarter. And for the second straight game, Durant’s struggles stemmed from his inability to shake free from LeBron James.
- Durant’s inability to shake free from LeBron is the reason Westbrook went off. Westbrook took matters into his own hands, and his ability to do such a thing and do it with great effectiveness is the reason why no one should care one iota about how many shots Westbrook takes compared to Durant.
- Since the NBA Finals adopted the 2-3-2 format, no team has ever come back from a 3-1 hole. The Thunder’s mission, if it is to win its first championship in the OKC era, is to become the first team to do so. Thirteen others have tried. Thirteen others have failed.
- Westbrook on his foul on Chalmers: “It was just a miscommunication on my part. Nothing I can do about it now.”
- Of course, nobody with the Thunder threw Westbrook under the bus or so much as blamed him for the loss. It was a classy move by players and coach Scott Brooks.
- Brooks on the foul: “That play, I tell our guys, one play does not determine the outcome of a game. There’s 200 plays involved in every basketball game. It doesn’t come down to one play. It was a tough play, but we move on from it; learn from it and move on from it.
- Perk on the foul: “It’s not his fault. Guys was on the floor and guys that was on the bench pulled everybody together and reminded everybody that there was five seconds on the shot clock and not to foul. But that wasn’t the reason we lost the game. There wasn’t (a) single play in the fourth quarter that lost the game. It was the plays throughout the game.”
- Chalmers had 25 points tonight. That should about sum up what happened here for the Thunder.
- Chalmers had just two points fewer than everybody on the Thunder not named Westbrook or Kevin Durant. Problem.
- Unless something changes and changes in a hurry, James Harden is going to have nightmares about this series for a long, long time. Eight points on 2-for-10 shooting. It’s inexplicable at this point. He knows exactly how the Heat are playing him, yet he seems powerless to do anything about it. Definitely didn’t see him being next to a non-factor offensively in this series.
- LeBron looks as confident as I’ve ever seen him. That’s scary.
- Only two home teams in 2-3-2 Finals history has swept all three games on their home court. Miami is on the verge of becoming the third.
- This is just the second three-game losing streak of the year for the Thunder.
- Westbrook’s 20 made field goals are the most in a Finals since Shaq made 21 in 2000.
- This series began as the Thunder’s team against Miami’s big three. It’s amazing how it’s turned into the Heat’s team against the Thunder’s dynamic duo.
- If the Heat go on to win the title this year, LeBron will have earned it. Good for him.
- As you can imagine, the locker room after the game was extremely quiet. Players kept to themselves and didn’t really even talk amongst each other by the time the media was allowed in. This one hurt.
- Up next. Game 5 on Thursday right back here in Miami.
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