Oklahoma City Thunder reverts to old habits in loss to Miami Heat

In a game that felt all-too familiar to last year's NBA Finals, cosmetically and in its conclusion, Oklahoma City suffered a 103-97 loss in its Christmas Day confrontation with the defending champion Miami Heat.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 25, 2012
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photo - Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant (35) drives against Miami Heat's LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. The Heat won 103-97. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) ORG XMIT: FLJC114
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant (35) drives against Miami Heat's LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. The Heat won 103-97. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) ORG XMIT: FLJC114

Five straight Thunder possessions inside the three-minute mark defined how difficult the Thunder made things Tuesday.

First, Westbrook corralled a rebound and either didn't see a streaking Kevin Martin down the right side or looked him off. Westbrook, instead of passing, dribbled the length of the court and forced a layup in between three Heat defenders. The shot missed.

On the next possession, Westbrook tried to finish a fast-break layup but barreled over Ray Allen and was called for an offensive foul. Kendrick Perkins then picked up a second consecutive offensive foul on an illegal screen.

Martin followed by missing another contested layup, and Durant ended the string of questionable shot selection by attacking a paint full of Heat defenders but drawing a foul. Even when he went to the foul line, he split a pair of free throws, which about summed up the Thunder's night.

Defensively, the Thunder didn't look much better than it did in June guarding Miami. LeBron James led the way with a team-high 29 points, eight assists and nine rebounds. Dwyane Wade added 21 points, and Mario Chalmers broke out of a recent slump with 20 points, making four of eight 3-pointers.

After Durant pulled the Thunder within 96-95 on a driving dunk, another Thunder miscue essentially sealed it for Miami.

Perkins attempted to double team James on the left wing, but nobody rotated and covered his man. It left Chris Bosh all alone under the rim for an uncontested dunk.

It was a play that characterized both the Thunder's Christmas Day performance and the gap that still exists between the champs and the runners-up.

“The margin is really small against this team,” Collison said. “It's a lot of little things that we can do better. I think that's what we should focus on. It's just like any other team, those little things are what's going to win you the game. It's not so much about the matchups or the talent.”


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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