Miami started Game 2 like someone just picked on their younger sister. They were pissed. They were aggressive. They played like they would not be denied. Miami ran out to a 20 -5 lead to start the game and Oklahoma City stumbled out o the gate, trying to gain their composure.
Yet, OKC eventually woke up and managed to finish the first quarter with a run that put the game at 27-15. It felt at that point like the Thunder was wide-awake and about to smack Miami back into the same place they smacked them in Game 1. Honestly, the rest of the game kind of felt like the Thunder did just that. The two teams tied the 2nd quarter and then Oklahoma outscored Miami in the 3rd and 4th.
If Miami hadn’t built up such a large lead early, their second half slumber would have cost them the game. They came out to start the 4th quarter looking to not lose the game as opposed to trying to win it. If OKC had avoided foul trouble or simply managed to not sleep through the first quarter, this would easily have been another Thunder victory.
The Thunder hit the fourth quarter in full stride. Russell Westbrook was on fire, rattling off six consecutive jumpers and ended with 27 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Kevin Durant got into early foul trouble picking up two fouls in the 1st quarter, and then gained a couple silly fouls in the 2nd. He is far too valuable to the Thunder’s offense to be picking up tic-tac fouls; trying to knock the ball out of Chris Bosh’s hand on rebounds. Durant still managed 32 points on 12-22 shooting in limited minutes, but his presence was greatly missed while on the bench. This was one of the reasons a lethargic second half Miami defense was able to get away with mediocre play.
The sub-plot to the entire game and series is the LeBron vs. Durant matchup, and the 4th quarter clutch performances of both all-stars. Game 1 clearly went to Durant with 17 points in the 4th. I begrudgingly give Game 2 to LeBron.
James hardly scored in the 4th quarter and didn’t have any late game heroics that will make the cover of the sports section, but he did knock down a critical fade away jumper with 1:30 left on the clock and two free throws with :50 left that enabled Miami to limp away with a win.
Durant really lead his teams' 4th quarter charge more than LeBron did with 3-pointers, dunks, and mid-range jumpers, but he missed the one critical shot that counted most with just :5 left on the clock. Some die-hard Thunder fans might belly ache that he got fouled by LeBron, but it wasn’t enough contact for a foul in a game where bodies had been colliding into each other all game without foul calls.
The series now heads back to Miami for games 3, 4, and 5. The Heat must be ecstatic they’re even 1-1, but wary of how poor they continue to play in the second half of games and specifically the 4th quarter. Even with the series tied, the Thunder continue to look younger, quicker, and more clutch down the stretch.
Photo Credit: AP