MIAMI (AP) — Down by 18 points midway through the opening quarter, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder looked well on their way to witnessing a rout.
That's exactly what happened.
And they enjoyed every moment.
Durant remained sizzling with 33 points, Serge Ibaka added 22 and the Thunder roared back from an abysmal start — they trailed 22-4 early — to embarrass the Miami Heat 112-95 on Wednesday night, erasing that big deficit out of the gate by outscoring the two-time defending champions by 43 points over a 33-minute span.
"They were ready for us to come in and play," Durant said. "They hit some tough shots early on, a few 3's, and we didn't panic. We just tried to stay together and that's what we did. Our bench was great in getting us back in that game."
The Thunder led by as many as 25, and shot 16 for 27 from 3-point range. Miami was 3 for 19 from beyond the arc.
Durant has now scored at least 30 points in 12 straight games, matching the league's longest such streak since Tracy McGrady did it in 14 consecutive outings in the 2002-03 season. The Thunder extended their winning streak to nine, inching them closer to Indiana in the race for the league's best record. And the Oklahoma City bench outscored Miami's reserves 39-21, with Jeremy Lamb scoring 18 and Derek Fisher going 5 for 5 from 3-point range for his 15 points.
"There's no running away from it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Other than the first eight minutes of the game they outclassed us tonight. They absolutely deserved this win."
LeBron James scored 34 points for Miami, his 1-on-1 duel with Durant not really amounting to much on a night where the Heat allowed 25 points off turnovers and blew an 18-point lead for just the fourth time since he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh became teammates nearly four years ago.
Bosh scored 18 points and Wade added 15 for Miami.
"We played well to start the game," James said. "We played well all the way until like the second quarter. From that point on they did what they want to do."
Much of the buzz going into the night was about the MVP race, and how this might be the season that Durant finally catches James for the league's top individual award.
Head-to-head, they weren't separated by much. But for just the fourth time in 17 meetings between their teams, Durant came out on top.