Your browser does not support iframes.
1 Lead change in the entire game. Once the Thunder took the lead in the final seconds of the third quarter, it never trailed again10 Rebounds for Nick Collison on the night coming off the bench, part of the Thunder's 43-35 rebounding advantage11 Assists for Russell Westbrook on the night, with only two turnovers in addition to 27 points and 8 rebounds24-4 Advantage in Fast Break Points for the Thunder on the night36 Points for Kevin Durant tonight on 12-for-20 shooting in addition to 8 rebounds and 4 assists51.9 Shooting percentage for the Thunder throughout the night56-40 Points in the paint edge in the Thunder's favor58-40 Point differential in the Thunder's favor in the second half of the game
GAME IN REVIEWBy Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
RECAP: No team wants to face a double-digit deficit in the Playoffs, but the Thunder has shown in two Game 4's against the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers this year that opponents' 13-point leads are never safe.
On Tuesday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Thunder erased a third 13-point deficit, this time chipping away at the Miami Heat's lead consistently throughout the second and third quarters, before ultimately taking the lead for good with 16.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter on a Russell Westbrook layup with the foul. Head Coach Scott Brooks enjoyed the poise and resilience with which his team played in the second half to earn its 105-94 victory.
"I thought we showed a lot of toughness in that second half, really battling and fighting for every possession," Brooks said. "I give our guys a lot of credit. They did a great job of competing in that second half."
After allowing 29 first quarter points and letting the Heat shoot 51.2 percent from the field in the first half, the Thunder came out in the second set of 24 minutes with a renewed energy, aggression and force.
On the defensive end, the Thunder forced the Heat into seven second half turnovers, while holding the Heat to 40 percent shooting. On offense, the Thunder took care of business by outrebounding the heat by nine while racking up 10 assists to only two turnovers of its own. Led by Kevin Durant's 17 fourth quarter points, the Thunder rallied and outscored the Heat by 18 in the second half.
"We just wanted to continue to keep playing," Durant said. "It's a long game, and every time our coach was just saying play harder, and that's what we did. It's a game of runs so you just have to make sure that every time we got a good shot, and on the defensive end we've just got to contest and play hard. We have to continue to do that."
The engine of the Thunder offense, Russell Westbrook may have been the most notable sign of the poise that Brooks' team exhibited after falling behind early. In the Thunder's first NBA Finals game ever, Westbrook came up two rebounds short of a triple double with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Westbrook's 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting, six rebounds and five assists to one turnover in the second half helped guide and steer the Thunder offense in the right direction.
"I'd have to say at the start of the third quarter, that's when we started playing our game," Westbrook said. "Started being aggressive, rebounding the ball, just playing Thunder basketball. I think that's when it started for me."
Perspective is something that the Thunder has had all season, and with the presence of veterans like Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder has a host of players who understand the dynamics of Playoff basketball. With the wonderful crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena in attendance, the Thunder utilized its home-court advantage in the series with an important Game 1 victory.
"Winning that first game when it's on your home court, you almost have an obligation to do that," Fisher said. "We've gotten ourselves into the series and gotten acclimated… Now we just keep building and focus on playing one game at a time."
Once the game was over with and the players started to pack up and leave the locker room, it was clear that Game 1 was already gone from the team's mind. There are certainly positives the Thunder can build off of, like the way the Thunder dominated points in the paint and fast break points, but for a team that is never satisfied, Perkins and his teammates will look to find ways to improve heading into Game 2.
"We have to get locked in for Game 2," Perkins said. "We know that they're going to come in even harder. You have to think that LeBron (James) and (Dwyane) Wade are going to come out more aggressive. We have to throw this one out the window and move forward and get to Game 2 and get back to the drawing board. I still think there are some things we could do a whole lot better."
After the Heat built up a 13-point lead in the first half, the Thunder consistently chipped away to eventually take a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Once in the final period, the Thunder turned a three-point lead into a ten point advantage in the span of three-and-a-half minutes. Leading by a slim margin of 84-81 with 6:53 remaining, the Thunder embarked on a 9-2 run that gave the Thunder a lead that would never dip below five again. Durant scored the first seven points of the run, all thanks to Westbrook assists. The first came on a three-pointer after Nick Collison made an offensive rebound, the second came on a driving runner and the third came on a mid-range jumper. To cap the run, Westbrook pulled up on the fast break for a mid-range jumper of his own. By the end of that stretch, the Thunder led 93-83 with 3:35 remaining in the game. Despite the offensive firepower that propelled the run, Head Coach Scott Brooks credited his team's defense.
"I thought we really did a good job of really playing defense in that second half," Brooks said "That's what we have to do. We have to start the game that way."
Plays the box score won't show, first half…
Kevin Durant uses his length to contest and force a miss that Kendrick Perkins rebounds, then Thabo Sefolosha hits Durant on the baseline for a jumper… Westbrook boxes out and grabs a tough rebound after tipping it to himself, then Durant disrupts a play by knocking the ball out of bounds… Durant gets a shooter's roll from the top of the key, then Perkins contests to force a miss… Serge Ibaka comes down with a soaring rebound then Westbrook hits Durant for a three pointer… Beautiful drive and dish by Westbrook to Ibaka for a slam dunk, then Sefolosha blocks a Dwyane Wade layup from behind… Westbrook gets to the bucket for a layup, then Sefolosha's length forces a miss… Perkins boxes out after nice post defense from Westbrook, who then drives and draws a foul… Durant uses his length to snag a loose ball then Nick Collison hustles to get an offensive board… Collison and Perkins combine for a blocked shot, then Durant gets back in transition to make a block… James Harden takes the outlet pass and hits Durant on the fast break for a layup and the foul… Collison hustles on the offensive glass for a tip in of a Harden miss, then Durant and Ibaka's length forces a miss… Harden leads the break and hits Fisher for a jumper… Collison with a big box out after Ibaka contests, then Harden hits a step back jumper as the quarter clock expires… Collison reels in another rebound then Harden slings it to Collison for a slam dunk… Nice work by Daequan Cook to pump fake then dribble around and pull up to draw a foul… Durant slips a pass to Ibaka in the paint who goes up strong and hits a layup plus the foul… Durant with a nice box out after Westbrook closes out on a three point shooter, then Fisher grabs a loose ball and scores in transition… Fisher with a big box out then he brings it up court and hits an elbow jumper… Strong team defense leads to a Heat turnover, then Westbrook boxes out LeBron James to get possession… Harden with a sharp pass to Westbrook who sneaks to the rim and finishes with his left hand… Perkins sets a screen to free up Harden for a corner three pointer from Westbrook, then Durant boxes out to lead to a foul Westbrook draws in transition… Perkins does a great job of passing James off through the lane to Durant on defense… Perkins sets a strong screen then Durant dives to the hoop for a massive slam dunk… Durant smartly kicks to Ibaka in the lane for a jumper, then Westbrook's pressure forces a turnover… Westbrook with a laser pass to Ibaka on the pick-and-roll for a slam dunk, then Ibaka pump fakes and drives to the cup for a layup… Ibaka hustles and gets on the floor for a loose ball that leads to a Sefolosha to Westbrook layup in transition then Ibaka's length forces a miss to end the half.
Plays the box score won't show, second half…
Nice close out by Perkins and an Ibaka rebound lead to an Ibaka to Durant corner three pointer to start the half… Sefolosha forces a miss then tips the ball to himself on a run out to draw a foul… Westbrook takes it quickly to the cup for a layup, then Sefolosha blocks a dunk attempt… Perkins saves the ball then Sefolosha hustles to a loose ball and dishes to Westbrook for a layup… Westbrook jumps the passing lane, once to make a steal and the second time to break up a fast break chance… Sefolosha again gets into the passing lane to make a steal and draws a foul in transition… Ibaka soars for a big rebound then Durant hits a cutting Sefolosha for a reverse layup on the secondary break… Westbrook with a brilliant drive and dish to Perkins who makes a strong catch and slam dunk… Ibaka with a nice rebound on defense and then gets another on the offensive end before Westbrook smartly pulls up in transition and draws a foul… Westbrook drives and Perkins ends up with a loose ball for a hook shot… Durant and Westbrook reel in rebounds then Westbrook hits a finger roll on the secondary break… Hustle by Collison forces a 24-second violation, then Westbrook's nice ball-handling draws a foul… Durant knocks down two big free throws, then Collison tips a loose board to Fisher… Collison and Sefolosha box out hard, then Westbrook somehow splits a double team and gets to the cup with a lefty finish and the foul… Solid defense by Westbrook off the ball and Collison off the ball leads to a miss at the end of the quarter… Collison hustles on the offensive glass then Durant follows up a Westbrook miss with a tip-in in transition… Beautiful box out by Westbrook to free up Collison for a rebound, then Collison tips out a miss to Sefolosha before Fisher rifles a pass to Sefolosha for a tough lefty layup… Strong box out by Durant to snare a missed free throw, then Durant hits an absurdly difficult floater… Collison and Sefolosha's quick hands cause a steal that Durant flushes home on the fast break… Westbrook gets the shooter's roll on an important mid-range jumper… Collison boxes out for a defensive board then tips another out to Westbrook who hits Durant for a three pointer… Wonderful driving layup by Durant to get a bucket after Westbrook directs traffic, then Fisher makes a steal in the lane… Westbrook hits Durant off a curl and a nice screen action for a jumper, then Fisher boxes out hard to free up Westbrook for a board… Westbrook makes another rebound and pulls up in transition for a midrange jumper… Harden sets a nice screen to get Durant the ball on the wing before he drives and draws a foul… Westbrook somehow drives and hits an off-balance fall-away jumper in the lane, then Durant finds Collison on a pretty pocket pass for a slam dunk… Westbrook with staunch defense to force a turnover that leads to a Harden to Westbrook to Collison slam dunk… Durant heads to the free throw line with 12.4 seconds remaining to big cheers to seal the game.