OKLAHOMA CITY -- From the Thunders perspective, Game 2 of the NBA Finals was decided before the start of the second quarter.
Slow starts have plagued Oklahoma City in the first two games of the series. The Thunder overcame a 13-point, first-half deficit in Game 1, but its 17-point hole in Thursdays first quarter proved too great.
The best-of-7 series is tied at 1-1 with the next three games of the Finals in Miami beginning on Sunday night at 8 p.m.
We just have to come out better, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. We missed some shots. We gave them too many easy shots.
The Thunder started the game 1 of 12 from the field in Game 2, which allowed the Heat to build an 18-2 lead. Oklahoma City finally began showing signs of life when sixth man James Harden entered the game with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter.
Harden swished a three-pointer with 4:34 remaining in the period and, from there, the Thunder finished the quarter by hitting three its final seven shots.
Harden attributed the Thunders slow start, in part, to the Heats small starting lineup. The Heat paired Shane Battier inside with Chris Bosh, who started his first game of the playoffs since going down with an abdominal strain in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. It was the Heats seventh different starting lineup of the postseason.
With Battier at the four, they space the floor very well, Harden said. We have to adjust and be ready to play harder from the beginning in Game 3. I think we did a pretty good job in the second half of fighting and coming back, but by then it was too late.
In the Western Conference finals, the Thunder adjusted well to the Spurs small lineup. After going down 2-0 in the series, Oklahoma City won the next four games.
After Game 2, Kevin Durant took the blame for the Thunders slow start. He was 1 of 3 to start the game. Meanwhile, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was 1 of 7 in the first quarter.
Ive got to make shots for my team, Durant said. But I think on the defensive end, we all have to be better, and we cant really worry about the offensive end. We missed shots, but we cant let it dictate our defense.
According to the NBA, the Thunders 15 points in the first quarter were just two more points than the all-time mark for fewest points in a first quarter of the Finals in the shot-clock era. Fort Wayne had 13 points in the first quarter of Game 2 of the 1955 Finals against Syracuse. Milwaukee managed just 13 points in Game 3 of the 1974 Finals against Boston.
Heat rookie guard Norris Cole made his Finals debut in Game 2. He played 13 minutes 17 seconds and had two points.
Of the seven NBA draft picks from Cleveland State, Cole is the second player from the university to play in an NBA Finals, according to the NBAs player database. Franklin Edwards came off the bench for the Sixers in their 1983 NBA Finals sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers.
He wanted to play so bad, Wade said of Cole. He did well in the minutes that he played.
Wade said the pairing of Cole and starting point guard Mario Chalmers allowed me to have a chance to get off of [the ball] and make other moves and make other decisions, so I liked it.
Chalmers played more than 39 minutes in Game 2 but was just 1 of 7 from the field for three points.