Oklahoma City Thunder: Heat pounds Thunder despite Kevin Durant's 40 points
LeBron James had 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, and the Miami Heat trampled the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-100 in a Thursday night showcase before the All-Star break.
The best hope the Thunder had Thursday night against its archrival just didn't have it.
Maybe it had something to do with Kevin Durant being accustomed to coming through in the fourth quarter, not the first.
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In the highly anticipated second and final regular-season meeting between Oklahoma City and Miami, a rematch of last year's NBA Finals and perhaps a possible preview of this year's matchup for all the marbles, a slow start by Durant and his teammates doomed the Thunder in a 110-100 loss on Thursday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant, who ironically is on a historic pace for offensive efficiency this season, was mired in an 0-for-7 shooting start as the Heat built an 18-point first-half lead. By the time the NBA's scoring leader sank his first field goal, a 3-pointer from the top of the arc, just 4:22 remained in the opening half. The basket pulled the Thunder within 47-32.
“It was tough, man,” Durant said. “I was missing some shots in the lane. I was missing some layups. But the thing about me is I keep coming at it, keep going back and believing in myself and trusting in my work and I was able to make a few in the second half.”
A testament to Durant's scoring prowess is that he finished with a game-high 40 points. He made 11 of his final 13 shots, securing a 12-for-24 shooting night that keeps Durant's chase of the “50-40-90 club” (shooting percentage, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage) and alive and well as he heads to Houston for his fourth All-Star appearance.
But those numbers belie how rough of a night it was for Durant, something for which he can thank his good friend LeBron James.
Led by three-time MVP, the same man who put the Thunder out of its misery last June, Miami raced to a 15-point led after one quarter and never looked back. The Heat eventually built a 23-point lead that OKC was stuck fighting to overcome the rest of the way.
The Thunder never led.
“Maybe it was nerves, or we were too excited. I don't know,” Durant said. “That was the game I think, that first quarter.”