Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Heat

THUNDER 93

HEAT 98
5 Blocked shots by Serge Ibaka on the night

5 Assists by James Harden in addition to five rebounds

7 Number of rebounds each for Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison

10 Steals by the Thunder on the night

12 Offensive rebounds by the Thunder, leading to 15 second chance points

20 Points off turnovers for the Thunder, which forced Miami into 14 give-aways

30 Points for Kevin Durant, a team-high

41-33 Rebounding advantage for the Thunder over the Heat

The Thunder continues its road trip when it faces the Indiana Pacers on Friday. Game time is 6:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then returns home to take on the Toronto Raptors on Sunday before traveling to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks on Monday. After that, the Thunder hosts the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
In a hostile road atmosphere, the Thunder certainly didn't back down and it didn't fold when the home-standing Miami Heat made its runs. Throughout a game that ultimately ended in a 98-93 Thunder loss, Head Coach Scott Brooks' team played together and gave itself a chance to win by stopping Heat runs and getting it back to a one-possession game time and again. In the final minutes however, the Thunder just didn't make quite enough plays to get the win.

"Both teams gave everything they had," Brooks said. "The (Heat) made some plays towards the end and we fouled them too many times. It was a physical game and I like that. Neither team backed down. It's not a game I can be disappointed with. I am proud of our guys."

The Thunder controlled most of the first half, building an 11-point lead with only eight minutes remaining in the second quarter. That's when Miami got some momentum by getting six straight free throw attempts and started their onslaught from the three-point line, where they made 10 shots on the night. The Heat only average five made three-pointers per game on the season, and the Thunder held Miami to only 35.5 percent shooting on two-pointers throughout the game. It was a great effort, according to forward Kevin Durant, besides the team's 20 turnovers.

"We did everything that we wanted to do out there except for not turn the ball over," Durant said. "Defense was good, we rebounded well. We passed the ball, we got the ball moving. They got to the lane and put the pressure on our big fellas and got the calls and were making free throws."

The Thunder also managed to win the rebounding battle, but as the second half began the Heat made a quick run out of the gates to eventually build a nine-point lead just before the end of the third quarter. The Thunder responded with an 8-0 run of its own to start the fourth quarter, but when it took the lead on a Nick Collison layup from Russell Westbrook with just under nine minutes remaining, it couldn't build on its lead, and only regained that one-point advantage one more time in the contest, one minute later on a James Harden layup. Regardless, the Thunder kept the game within six points the rest of the way, never relenting even in the face of adversity.

"They played with a lot of passion," Brooks said of his players. "We are a physical team and have some pretty gifted athletes that play the game very smoothly. That is how you win in this league. You don't win by not being tough. We are young, but we are not soft. We play physical, hard and the right way."

TURNING POINT:
This game had about two different turning points, with the first coming in the second quarter when the Thunder saw an 11-point lead disappear in the final eight minutes of the half. In fact the Heat embarked on an 18-8 run starting with 5:57 remaining in the half thanks to five made free throws, a Mario Chalmers 3-pointer, a LeBron James 3-pointer and two layups for James and Dwyane Wade. As a result, the Thunder trailed 50-49 at intermission when James beat the halftime buzzer. The second turning point happened with 2:42 remaining in the game, when the Thunder made it a 1-point game at 94-93. The Thunder never scored again thanks to tough defense that forced a shot clock violation and three missed shots and two missed free throws.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Serge Ibaka gets back on Chris Bosh to block his shot at the rim, then Ibaka rises up high to put a layup in off the glass… Kendrick Perkins plays tough defense to force a bad miss then Russell Westbrook pulls the team together to rally them after Kevin Durant draws a foul… Great hustle by Westbrook to race back in transition defense to force a missed layup, then Thabo Sefolosha cleans up the defensive board… Pretty passing inside from Perkins to Ibaka for a layup, then Westbrook cleans up his own miss… Westbrook flies to the cup, then Perkins cleans up the miss with a put-back… Great show of length by Perkins, Ibaka and Sefolosha to force Dwyane Wade into a blocked shot then good ball movement leads to a Sefolosha reset and three-pointer… Westbrook sneaks in and steals the in-bounds pass, leading to a monster jam by Kevin Durant… Perkins makes a block at the rim then Durant and Sefolosha fly back in transition to prevent a sure dunk… Westbrook and Ibaka both corral offensive rebounds that eventually lead to a Sefolosha three-pointer, then Durant boxes out and makes a nice defensive rebound… Really tough defensive rebound by Perkins, then Ibaka blocks the ball off Norris Cole, giving the Thunder possession… Perkins gathers the team together to talk strategy coming out of a timeout, then Ibaka hustles to regain possession off a missed shot… Beautiful screen by Nick Collison for James Harden leading to a perfect cross-court pass for a Durant three-pointer… Collison and Nazr Mohammed combine for a block of a Bosh shot at the rim then Harden makes a perfect pitch-ahead pass to Mohammed for a layup… Great ball rotation as Harden uses the bounce pass to hit Collison, who swings it to Mohammed for a mid-range jumper… Derek Fisher does a great job of trapping and then stealing the ball from Wade, leading to a Harden 3-pointer… Harden then makes another steal and Daequan Cook sets up in the corner for a 3-pointer… Westbrook drives the lane and knocks in a floater with a foul then Perkins hits a cutting Westbrook for a layup-and-one… Really big defensive rebound by Westbrook to regain control, then Harden drives and hits Durant for a jumper… Perkins with a great outlet pass then Durant finds Harden on a fast break for a reverse layup… Quick hands from Durant and Harden to make a steal leads to a Durant slam dunk on a fast break.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Great work by Ibaka to stay down on Bosh’s pump fakes then he does a nice job of contesting a Wade shot then cleaning up the rebound… Westbrook displays extreme toughness to finish a left-handed layup as he was getting fouled… Ibaka slaps a blocked shot straight across the backboard then Harden drives the lane and scoops one in… Strong box-out by Perkins down low to grab a defensive board, then Westbrook spins to the basket and flips one in… Harden drives hard into the lane and gets a dunk to go down off the backboard with the foul… Westbrook snags two offensive rebounds then gets it to Durant, who draws a foul… Durant runs into the lane as the shot clock expires and hits a floater then Westbrook makes a steal and draws a foul… Collison with a big defensive board, then Durant backs down his man and shoots a mid-range fade-away… Fisher drives then slips a pass into Collison to draw a foul, then nice help-side rotation from Durant to impact a shot attempt… Westbrook slings a pass into Collison for a layup then Harden acrobatically tips in his own missed layup…Perkins plays tough defense and tips the ball to Fisher, who gets it to Westbrook and on a drive and kick, hits Durant for a three-pointer… Durant flies back in transition defense after Harden slowed LeBron James down and makes a block… Durant drives and dishes to Westbrook for a 3-pointer, then a fantastic steal by Harden that leads to a Durant lefty layup… Perkins plays perfect defense then Durant makes a block to get a fast break opportunity then the Thunder forces a 24-second violation with a great Perkins close-out and Ibaka block… Westbrook tosses an alley-oop to Durant then Ibaka does a great job of staying straight up to force a miss and hustles to get on the floor to force a jump ball… Really big play as Ibaka wins a jump-ball then Head Coach Scott Brooks draws up a nice in bounds play.



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