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NBA Finals: Heat rallies past OKC Thunder, takes 2-1 lead in series

by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 17, 2012

/articleid/3685389/1/pictures/1751838">Photo - Miami's Chris Bosh (1) works between Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) and  Kendrick Perkins (5) during Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena, Sunday, June 17, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Miami's Chris Bosh (1) works between Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) and Kendrick Perkins (5) during Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena, Sunday, June 17, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

What will haunt the Thunder in its film meeting Monday is how Westbrook missed a wide-open Perkins on the roll following his ball screen. Ordinarily, Perkins isn't the guy you want to pass to seeking points, especially not in the final minute. But on this night, Perkins was phenomenal, scoring 10 points with 12 rebounds and even going 4-for-6 from the foul line, a place where all his more reliable teammates struggled.

The sequence summed up quite adequately how the Thunder uncharacteristically panicked in crunch time, with controlled offensive flow being replaced by chaos.

James Harden then followed Westbrook's oversight with an even bigger one.

After the Heat got the ball to James to bring the ball up the court, Harden pressed up on James with unnecessary aggression. Westbrook, stationed five feet from Harden, barked to his backcourt mate to relax, to avoid fouling. There was a six-second differential between the shot clock and game clock. Fundamental defense and a stop would have given the Thunder the ball with another chance to tie.

But Harden, however questionable as it was, fouled James.

James missed the first but made the second, bumping Miami's lead to 89-85.

That's when the most costly trip of the night occurred.

This time, it was Thabo Sefolosha.

Following a timeout, the Thunder inbounded the ball 16.2 seconds left. But after the Heat denied an entry pass to Durant, Sefolosha tried to inbound the ball to Westbrook. The two had a misunderstanding. Sefolosha tried to deliver a bounce pass to where Westbrook stood following his screen for Durant. But Westbrook darted toward Sefolosha as he made the pass.

The ball went right to Dwyane Wade.“The side out-of-bounds play,” Brooks said, “just turned it over.”

Ballgame.

Three plays. Three players. Thirty-five seconds.

There went Game 3.

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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