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OKC Thunder can't solve the Heat

COMMENTARY — Miami routs OKC in regular-season rematch, meaning all of Thunderland will become Indiana fans once the playoffs begin.
by Berry Tramel Published: February 20, 2014

Let's Go Pacers.

That familiar rally cry returned to the Oklahoma City chorus Thursday night after the Heat reminded the Thunder and America who wears the pants in this rivalry.

The Heat beat the Thunder 103-81 with a thorough beatdown that wiped out all the momentum created by the Thunder's blowout victory in Miami three weeks ago.

“We owed 'em,” said the Heat's Chris Bosh.

The Kevin Durant/LeBron James showdown. Russell Westbrook's return. Kendrick Perkins' presence in the starting lineup. All were reduced to secondary status Thursday night by the Heat's emphatic statement.

“They smacked us pretty good, man,” Bosh said of the Thunder's 112-95 rout on Jan. 29, achieved without Westbrook. “They beat us. It's not too often we get beat, dominated like they dominated. That leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

Bosh said the victory vindicated the Heat “a little bit.” He put his hands together. “We're even. We're back up to here now.”

Even? This series? Until three weeks ago, Miami had won six straight against the Thunder, including the final four games of the 2012 NBA Finals. Miami seemed a horrid matchup for the Thunder, whose best bet for an NBA championship was to meet the Indiana Pacers in the Finals.

Now, after this undressing, the Thunder is back to flying the Indiana flag.

This game was not complicated. Miami played ferocious defense, the Thunder absolutely did not.

With LeBron and Shane Battier dogging Durant into an off night, and Westbrook struggling to find rhythm and timing in his first game since Christmas, the Thunder had trouble finding good shots.

The Thunder's points early came via offensive rebounds and fast breaks. The Thunder's set-up offense was stuck in quicksand.

Worse yet, the Thunder's offensive ineptitude fueled Miami's offense, with a variety of breakaways.

The Heat made 13 of its first 14 shots and finished 41 of 75 from the field, 54.7 percent. And it wasn't like Miami was hot, sinking silky jumpers. The Heat consistently got easy shots.

Any LeBron shot can be classified as easy, and he scored the Heat's first 12 points.

But in the first quarter alone, Miami had four dunks and three uncontested layups, plus five other baskets in the lane. For the game, the Heat total was seven dunks, six uncontested layups and six field goals on other drives to the basket.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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