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.
At halftime, Durant had more turnovers (three) than baskets (two). By the time Durant warmed up and found some free space, the game was decided.
“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.