Thunder played gritty, kept putting the heat on Miami

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said: “That's what they do. They keep on coming. They're relentless.”
by Berry Tramel Published: June 13, 2012

Durant had a monster game (36 points, 17 in the fourth quarter), and three of his down-the-stretch baskets came off Westbrook passes.

This is the kind of point guard play everyone has been clamoring for Westbrook to produce, even though he often has. It wasn't all Westbrook's fault that Durant had only 10 shots through three quarters. Scotty Brooks said Durant needed to work harder for his shots, especially since LeBron didn't guard Durant full time, as expected.

If Durant isn't shooting and Westbrook isn't making, the Thunder is an easy out.

“We kind of was nervous, I guess,” Durant said. “That's something, it can't happen next game or the rest of the series.”

But nervousness, the Thunder overcomes. Just like in Game 6 against the Spurs, when OKC wiped out a 15-point halftime deficit, the Thunder gets rolling.

“We showed a lot of toughness in that second half,” Brooks said. “Really battling and fighting for every possession.”

Credit Westbrook. A point guard who commits just two turnovers while dishing 11 assists in 42 minutes against the Heat's array of demon defenders is a heck of a ballplayer. Throw in a 27-point night, and Westbrook's Finals debut was quite memorable.

So was the Thunder's.

“We just wanted to continue to keep playing,” Durant said. “It's a long game, and every time our coach was just saying play harder, play harder. And that's what we did.”

The Heat showed its hand — letting LeBron play rover much of the game to jump over on Durant or Westbrook on a whim — and now the Thunder can counter, with the blessing of a one-game lead.

And the knowledge that as fun and exciting and thrilling as it plays, it also plays with grit.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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