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NBA Finals: Heat holds off Thunder to tie series at a game apiece

LeBron James scored 32 points and hit the clinching free throws with 7 seconds left, Dwyane Wade added 24 points and the Miami Heat claimed home-court advantage in the NBA Finals by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 in Game 2 on Thursday night.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 14, 2012

For some things, there just are no answers.

For example, what’s up with these slow starts by the Oklahoma City Thunder?

If anyone out there knows, please report to Thunder headquarters before the team jets to Miami, because not even the culprits have a clue what’s going on.

On the biggest stage the season has to offer, the Thunder is inexplicably sputtering out of the gate and falling behind big before having to battle back for a shot at victory. Oklahoma City dodged a bullet in Game 1, but that same script bit the Thunder in the backside in Game 2.

Another dreadful early offensive drought doomed the Thunder on Thursday night, as the Heat notched a wire-to-wire 100-96 win inside Chesapeake Energy Arena to even this NBA Finals series at one game apiece.

Oklahoma City trailed 18-2 in the first seven-plus minutes. Over that span, the Thunder missed 11 of 12 shots and turned the ball over four times.

Miami eventually extended its lead to as many as 17 on two occasions, but this time the Thunder’s rally fell short. This time, Kevin Durant ran out of magic.

This time, the slow start cost the Thunder home-court advantage.

“I liked the way we came back and fought and made it a one-possession game at the end,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “But when you get down 17, too many things have to happen well for you and perfect for you.”

Everyone from Brooks to Durant to Russell Westbrook and James Harden were asked what’s the reason for the slow starts.

Not one had an answer.

“We don’t know,” said Harden, who bounced back from a brutal Finals debut to score 21 points. “We have to change if we want to win games.”

Game 3 is Sunday at Miami, and the Thunder must now win at least one game inside American Airlines Arena to earn its first championship in the Oklahoma City era.

Oklahoma City got as close as 98-96 with 37.5 seconds remaining, but Durant, who scored 16 fourth-quarter points, missed a heavily-contacted 7-foot baseline jumper in the final 10 seconds and LeBron James finished off the Thunder with a pair of foul shots.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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