Game Recap

3 Steals for Thabo Sefolosha tonight, part of nine steals by the Thunder

6 Assists for James Harden in addition to six rebounds and nine points

8 Blocked shots for the Thunder, all of which were by the starting five

10 Lead changes in the game, in addition to eight ties

12 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins on the night including six on the offensive end and ten points

25 Points for Kevin Durant on the night on 11-for-19 shooting

26-21  The score by which the Thunder out-scored the Heat in the second quarter, changing the game

37.8 Shooting percentage the Thunder held the Heat to throughout the night

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
MIAMI -- In a game of runs and 10 lead changes, the Thunder nearly matched punch for punch with the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but just weren't able to make enough plays to get the win.

After the 91-85 defeat, the Thunder pointed to some turnovers and missed free throws, small things, that could have changed the outcome of the game. One thing that was consistent throughout the night, however was the Thunder's defense. That rotating, switching, communicating defense which held the Heat to a poor shooting night, particularly outside the paint, where it shot a meager 19.4 percent.

"It was a good game," guard Russell Westbrook said. "We kept them down on shooting, 37 percent. (We) just weren't able to close it out but we'll do a better job next time."

In the third quarter the Thunder let a 10-point lead slip away after Kevin Durant was saddled with his fourth foul, but the team stayed in this one thanks to some major defensive and rebounding toughness in the third quarter that turned the tide a bit. Kendrick Perkins' 10 points and 12 rebounds, including six on the offensive end, was the show of strength that Head Coach Scott Brooks had been looking for.

"He (Perkins) was tough all night, got 12 rebounds and played well for us," Durant said. "We just need that from him for the rest of the series. Also Serge (Ibaka) and Nick (Collison) and guys are playing hard. So we just have to continue to keep playing together and believing. We'll be alright."

All season long the Thunder has done a good job of compartmentalizing and not lingering on wins or losses. This one may hurt for a bit tonight, but come tomorrow's practice the team will have turned its focus completely to Tuesday night's Game 4. Whether it is after a win or a loss, the Thunder always move on, which it will need to do in order to be mentally at its best heading into another tough road Finals game.

"We have a practice tomorrow and a film session," Brooks said. "Just pick some things that we can improve on and keep getting better on things that we did well. I thought it was an intense game. It was a fourth quarter game. We did a lot of good things. I really believe a small play here or there really could have helped us. One more stop, a couple more free throws could have changed the outcome of this game."

Besides pointing a few areas the Thunder could improve upon for Tuesday, veterans like Kendrick Perkins and Derek Fisher believe their team simply needs to trust in one another completely in order to succeed. Brooks' club has done a good job of that all Playoffs during its run through the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, who account for ten of the last 13 NBA Championships. In order to leap over its final hurdle, the Thunder needs to harness that same united teamwork.

"It's just sticking together," Perkins said. "At the end of the day you still have to go out here playing basketball. It's not like its Game 1 of the Finals, it's the third game. It's just playing basketball now… We just have to block everything out our heads and make sure we're focused."

Turning Point:
The turning point in this one came at the end of the third quarter, when the Thunder held a 64-54 lead with 4:33 remaining. The Heat then went on a 15-3 run to end the quarter and take a 69-67 lead. LeBron James hit a floater, then the Thunder fouled two straight three-point shooters, resulting in six points from the free throw line for the Heat. Meanwhile, the Thunder went cold from both the field and the free throw line and Dwyane Wade hit a turnaround jumper and two free throws before James hit a corner three-pointer to take the lead. The Thunder only re-gained the lead once more in the game, but it lasted only one possesion.

Plays the box score won't show, first half…
Good job of contesting by Kendrick Perkins then a strong rebound by Serge Ibaka on the defensive glass… Nice work by Thabo Sefolosha to post up then take it to the bucket, then Westbrook hustles to get a loose ball and Perkins flushes it home in transition… Westbrook makes a block in the corner, then Kevin Durant uses his quick hands to knock the ball away from Dwyane Wade… Tough fall-away jumper from Westbrook along the baseline out of the timeout, then Ibaka comes up with a big rebound that leads to a Perkins post up bucket… Perkins with a tough offensive board which leads to a Harden to Ibaka post up play… Westbrook gets back into good defensive position to force a travel, then Durant posts up and nails a jumper… Nice screen by Perkins frees up Westbrook for a jumper… Nice swing pass by James Harden to Durant who flies in for a slam dunk, then Westbrook posts up hard and draws a foul… Slick pass by Harden to get it to Collison to draw a foul, then Durant smartly pulls up for a floater… Pretty passing from Harden to Sefolosha to Collison for a dunk, then Sefolosha makes a steal and draws a foul in transition… Pretty split of the double team by Harden who dumps it off to Perkins for a reverse layup, then the Thunder rotates over on defense well that leads to a Harden and-one layup in transition… Ibaka with a big block at the rim to regain possession… Harden soars extremely high for a defensive rebound, then Westbrook posts up going into the middle for a floater… Durant hits a difficult spinning jumper then Perkins tips a defensive board out to Durant… Westbrook drives and dishes to Derek Fisher for an incredible catch and three pointer, then Perkins posts up and draws a foul… Great job by the Thunder team defense to force a 24-second shot clock violation… Durant sizes up LeBron James then drains a top-of-the-key three pointer, then Perkins tips out a rebound to Harden… Durant with a blocked shot in the lane which leads to a 24-second violation on Miami, then Durant posts up and hits a floater over Wade… Nice drive by Westbrook to hit a floater in the lane, then Westbrook drains a three pointer just before halftime.

Plays the box score won't show, second half…
Durant hits a tough running bank-shot while going left, then Ibaka smartly tips a rebound to Durant, who follows up a miss on the offensive end to draw a foul… Ibaka with a clean rebound after good defense from Sefolosha leads to a Westbrook to Sefolosha fast break alley oop… Smart foul by Perkins to prevent a sure dunk, then Westbrook patiently finds Ibaka for a jumper at the elbow… Nice board by Perkins on defense leads to a crafty scooping layup by Westbrook after a good screen by Ibaka…Wonderful defense by Durant and Sefolosha to make a steal that Durant follows up with a slam in transition… Good job of battling by Sefolosha and Ibaka on defense then Durant hits a runner off the backboard… Ibaka pins a ball against the backboard… Tough box out by Perkins on a missed free throw, then Harden hits Fisher for a three pointer plus the foul!... Perkins really tough inside on a missed shot in grabbing an offensive rebound and drawing a foul… Sefolosha saves the ball on an offensive board then Perkins snags another one that leads to two Ibaka free throw attempts… Nice work by Harden to stutter step then drive to the lane and draw a foul… Harden jumps the passing lane and makes a steal before getting down court to draw a foul… Collison with an important box out and rebound on defense then Harden grabs an offensive board to get another opportunity… Harden makes a steal that finds Collison then Fisher hits a floater in transition… Collison recovers and makes a big block to force a shot clock violation… Westbrook pulls up and hits a big jumper from the elbow, then Fisher and Collison make a steal that leads to a Harden to Durant alley-oop… Harden drives hard and draws a foul for two free throws, then Harden boxes out strong and pitches ahead to Durant to draw a foul… Fisher snags a loose ball with a steal and gets it to Harden who takes it strong to the bucket… Fisher makes a smart play to stay in bounds, then strips Wade, leading to Durant being fouled on a run out… Perkins with a big block, then Harden saves the ball in-bounds… Nice screen from Sefolosha sets up a Westbrook to Durant elbow jumper, then Sefolosha swats a shot from behind… Perkins stays straight up on defense as the Thunder forces a turnover, then Westbrook hits Perkins in the lane to draw a foul… Sefolosha makes a steal in the backcourt and slams one home in transition, then Perkins snares a rebound that leads to a Westbrook pull-up jumper.