MIAMI — From the opening tip, the Oklahoma City Thunder never stood a chance standing toe-to-toe with a star-studded Miami Heat squad on style points.
That much was clear when, on the Heat's opening possession, LeBron James flushed an alley-oop dunk from Chris Bosh to put Miami on the scoreboard first just 16 seconds in. Thirty seconds later, the third member of Miami's big three, Dwyane Wade, streaked the length of the court following a Thunder miss and served up one of the Heat's heart-pounding fast breaks.
But when it came to substance, well, the Thunder showed it had plenty, using it to survive the Heat, 96-85, before a nationally televised ESPN audience and a raucous sellout crowd of 20,083 inside American Airlines Arena.
The Thunder seized what should go down as the season's signature win by digging in defensively and making Miami miserable all night on offense. It was the exact type of style the franchise is seeking to hang its hat on.
Oklahoma City held Miami to 38.5 percent shooting from the field, highlighted by hampering James and Wade into a joint 40-point effort on 15 of 42 shooting.
“Our defense was as good as it could possibly play,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
“We haven't been the 48-minute defending team that I would like (and) that we need to be. But tonight, we defended right from the start…Tonight, it was for four quarters. That's the way it should be played.”
The Thunder clogged the paint despite having to dodge center Kendrick Perkins' foul trouble. Perimeter players contested shots, forcing the Heat off their hot spots and funneling their ball-handlers into help defenders.
“We kept making them score over a hand,” said forward Nick Collison. “When they attacked the basket, for the most part, we had guys helping that they had to try to score over.
Mayberry: Thunder makes statement
Wednesday's box score