“They jumped on us, and it seems like we were playing uphill the entire game,” Scotty Brooks said.
At least Durant stayed aggressive, though that aggression spilled over into frustration — Durant had a first-half technical foul and seemed peeved at the referees all night long. But those refs gave Durant 15 foul shots, and he made them all.
Russell Westbrook stayed aggressive, too, and made 12 of 13 foul shots. Good thing for the Thunder the whistles were blowing. Westbrook had 26 points on 7-of-19 shooting and 10 assists, remarkable considering the Thunder had just six first-half baskets not scored by Westbrook.
Durant and Westbrook combined for 11 turnovers, and on a team so reliant on its top two players, that's unacceptable.
The Thunder rallied in the fourth quarter, but it was too big a hole. And not the kind of hole the Thunder can withstand in a potential NBA Finals.
The Thunder has to figure out how to free Durant. The Heat double-teamed Durant on screens the way the Heat penned up James Harden in the Finals. And the Thunder was slow to react.
LeBron is the best defender in the world, but Durant is the best offensive player in the world (unless LeBron is). The Thunder can't lose that individual matchup so decisively, if it has any chance against the Heat.
“Every time we play them, it's going to be close,” said Heat center Chris Bosh. “Even though we were up by double digits the whole game, it didn't feel that way … it just always feels like they are on your heels.”
Maybe in Miami it feels like that. In Oklahoma City, not so much. In OKC, it feels like if the Thunder is ever going to sip champagne after a Miami game, someone's got to propose.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.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.