Starting his first game since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Chris Bosh had 16 points and 15 rebounds, including seven offensive boards. He breathed life into the Heats half-court offense from the beginning of the game and settled the defense on the other end.
Bosh did the little things well. He absorbed a charge by James Harden with a minute left in the third quarter to preserve a double-digit lead. He spread the Thunders defense for his hard-driving teammates but also hustled to loose balls in the paint. He had a double-double before halftime.
We knew we were going to give a better effort on defense, Bosh said. We had a game plan. I just wanted to do my part and make sure we got some boards.
Bosh did the big things even better. His dunk with 53.8 seconds left gave Miami a seven-point lead and ensured the Heat would somehow get out of Oklahoma City, an impossibly difficult place for opponents of the Thunder, with the series tied 1-1.
Miami held a 78-67 advantage entering the fourth quarter and, at that point, had 20 more points in the paint than Oklahoma City. A driving one-handed dunk by Durant cut the Heats lead to eight points with 8:20 left in the game. It was Oklahoma Citys smallest deficit since midway through the second quarter.
The Heat led 27-15 after the first quarter and 44-43 at halftime. Bosh made an immediate impact in a starting role, clearing the lane for Wade and James. Meanwhile, Shane Battier remained red hot from three-point range.
We need him to take those shots, Bosh said. We need him to take them and make them. It really opens it up.
Battier drained his third three-pointer of the first half to give the Heat a 42-29 lead. At that point, Battier was 7 of 10 from distance through less than six quarters of the NBA Finals. It has taken him a decade to reach the NBAs promised land but hes making the most of the opportunity. Batter finished with 17 points and was 5 of 7 from three-point range. He has scored 34 points in two games.
Boshs energy and post presence in the first half completely changed the outlook of the series for the Heat. He played 19 minutes in the first half and delivered a double-double. It was his first double-double since April 16, nearly a months time.
It was key having our best players on the floor early, especially when we needed to come out and play well, Wade said. [Bosh] spreads the floor and gives us more gaps to get to the paint. Were glad hes back and thats going to be important for the rest of the series.
The Heat led by as many as 17 points in the first half. James, throwing his weight and strength around against younger opponents, seemed unstoppable.
That was the game, Durant said. We cant start off 18-2, especially at home.
The Heat went ahead 51-34 with a 14-4 run in the second quarter. Five different players scored during run, which was a healthy sign for the Heats offense.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook had 27 points but needed 26 shots to do it. Sixth man James Harden had 21 off the bench and sparked the Thunders comeback in the second and third quarters.
I love the way we came back and fought but its tough to come back from 17 points, Thunder coach Scott Brooks. I give ourselves credit for fighting back but thats two games in a row where got down in the first six minutes. Weve got to come out better.