Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t the best team in the better NBA conference for nothing. Even with Russell Westbrook not having one of his greatest days, Durant led the Thunder to an impressive 103-87 win over the Miami Heat, who looked lost from the start in their visit to OKC.
LeBron James, who finished with 17 points and 7 assist, but also 4 turnovers, in a game which saw the Heat turn the ball over 21 times, said that it started from their first possession, when they turned the ball over. That set the tone for the entire game, and the Heat were chasing the Western leaders for the rest of the game.
In a game allegedly pitting two title contenders against each other, it looked like both teams had different goals in mind. The Thunder came out aggressive, assertive, not looking only to win and gain an advantage over the Heat in the standings, but dominate them all night long. The Miami Heat looked like a bunch of guys who can’t wait to get out of dodge and get this road trip, ending in Indiana, over with.
Durant gets a lot of flack for being “just” a scorer. Well, he wasn’t far from getting a triple double, coming out with a complete performance, like the ones LeBron James keeps getting commended for, finishing with 28 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Instead of Westbrook contributing, he got aid from Serge Ibaka (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Kendrick Perkins (16 points).
Speaking of Perkins, he definitely didn’t forget Dwyane Wade dunking on him last season, and the big man holds no love for the Heat anyhow. He got some sort of dirty revenge and dunking on Wade, afterwards “accidentally” kicking him in the face. He got the evil eye from Wade after that, but nothing else. I wonder what will be waiting for the big man in Miami, if anything at all.
Wade in general looked frustrated for long stretches of the game, despite hitting an 3/4 court buzzer beater in the third quarter. He sat out the first three minutes of the final period, and didn’t attempt a shot after coming back in. He didn’t really want to talk about it either. This is not the time to be having anger fits between players and head coaches from my small experience of watching the NBA over the years.
It was a game of effort, and deceleration. Kevin Durant and the Thunder simply stepped out oozing with confidence and determination. The Miami Heat simply looked out of place, out of sync. They couldn’t create the running game they’re used to through their defense, and couldn’t mount a fourth quarter charge like they have a few times this season. If this was just a minor setback, just a bad day, or something more, another example of the team’s true color in the face of stern opposition, we’ll know pretty soon.
As for Durant, who’s 0.4 points behind Kobe Bryant in the race for the NBA scoring title, his MVP stock got a major boost by the way he played while facing LeBron James, simply outplaying him all night.