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Thunder still can't figure out how to beat LeBron James, Heat

Oklahoma City has lost six consecutive games to Miami dating back to last season's finals.
by Berry Tramel Published: February 14, 2013

The night ended with the Thunder sipping champagne.

Kevin Durant's friend, Charlie Bell, proposed to his girlfriend on the Thunder hardwood, some 45 minutes after the Thunder-Heat showdown. Durant and his teammates celebrated with Bell when he got the answer he wanted.

The same answer received by two brave romantics who, courtesy of the Thunder's game operations, made public marriage proposals — one during a first-half timeout, another during the third-quarter Kiss Cam.

So the night was not a total failure.

But otherwise, this was a St. Valentine's Day massacre.

The Heat blistered the Thunder 110-100 Thursday night in a game that was supposed to help solve OKC's Miami problem but instead just exasperated it. The Heat had a 15-point lead in the first quarter, a 23-point lead in the third quarter and only a late Thunder rally made the score respectable.

The Thunder had lost five straight to the Heat, including the final four games of the 2012 NBA Finals. The Thunder played Miami tough on Christmas Day, losing 103-97 but taking it to the final seconds.

But now the Thunder's Miami mystery is not how the Boomers can win a series against the Heat. It's how can they win a game?

“You don't win championships in February,” said Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.

Maybe not, but after this blowout, the Heat has to be thinking they'll be sipping a little champagne themselves, should the Thunder return to the NBA Finals.

“It'll be in the back of our minds,” Kevin Martin said of the six-game losing streak to Miami. “But we've got 29 more games to get prepared for the post-season.”

The post-season is one thing. LeBron James is another. How is the Thunder going to prepare for LeBron?

We came into this game talking about how the Thunder was going to stop LeBron, and that remains a valid question. LeBron had 39 points on 24 shots. But we left this game with a new question: How the Thunder ever is going to score on LeBron?

LeBron's oppressive defense made for one of the most frustrating nights of Kevin Durant's six-year career. Durant finished with 40 points on 12-of-24 shooting. But when this was a game, LeBron suffocated Durant, who missed his first seven shots and none of them were remotely open.

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by Berry Tramel
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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