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.
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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.”