Thunder 112, Heat 95

Oklahoma City Thunder roar back, beat Miami Heat

Thunder forward Kevin Durant shoots over Heat forward LeBron James in the second quarter at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.
Thunder forward Kevin Durant shoots over Heat forward LeBron James in the second quarter at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.

Kevin Durant didn’t win the NBA’s most coveted individual award on Wednesday night, but his team certainly outdid the Heat and the league’s reigning MVP.

In the season’s first match-up of the league’s two best players, Durant failed to outscore LeBron James, but the Oklahoma City Thunder dominated in every other way. The Heat couldn’t make an outside shot in its 112-95 loss and the Thunder shot nearly 60 percent from three-point range. It was the Heat’s first loss in four games.

The stat line didn’t leave much room for subjective interpretation. The Heat went 3 of 19 from distance and the Thunder made six times that many three-pointers (16 of 27). In the head-to-head matchup of MVP contenders, James scored 34 points on 20 shots and Durant had 33 points on 23 attempts.

“There was a lot of different issues,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “One, they shot the heck out of the ball. They made the open ones, the contested ones, the end-of-clock ones.”

The Thunder began the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run to increase its lead to 23 points, and AmericanAirlines Arena fell silent. Veteran Thunder guard Derek Fisher then swished a three-pointer and the Heat answered with another turnover. It was the 20th of the game. The Heat finished with 21 turnovers, which the Thunder converted to 25 points.

“Our offense got us in trouble quite a bit tonight,” Spoelstra said. “We fumbled it…and guys were zigging when we thought they were zagging.”

James and Durant began trading blows with three minutes left in the third quarter, but the game never really was all that exciting. Oklahoma City led 91-75 after the third quarter. James went 12 of 20 from the field, 1 of 5 from three-point range and 9 of 9 from the free-throw line. Durant was 12 of 23 from the field, 4 of 9 from three-point range and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.

James and Durant cancelled each other out, but the Heat didn’t have an offensive counter for Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka, whose offensive game has improved dramatically since the Heat and Thunder met in the 2012 NBA Finals. Ibaka, who came into the league as a defensive specialist, has added a mid-range jumper to his skill set, but the Heat apparently hasn’t updated its scouting report.

Ibaka was wide open for most of the game and went 10 of 20 from the field for 22 points. He also had nine rebounds.

Chris Bosh had 18 points, going 7 of 14 from the field, but was limited to six points in the second half. Bosh led the Heat with nine rebounds. Dwyane Wade started his first game since Jan. 17 and had 15 points on 7 of 12 shooting.

The offensive production of Bosh and Wade was matched by Thunder reserves Jeremy Lamb and Fisher. Lamb had 18 points, going 7 of 10 from the field and 4 of 6 from three-point range and Fisher was 5 of 7 from the field and 5 of 5 from three-point range for 15 points.

The Thunder’s reserves outscored the Heat’s bench by 18 points.

The Heat built an 18-2 lead to begin the game, but the Thunder closed the deficit before halftime and took its first lead with 3:16 left in the second period.

“Virtually every 50-50 loose ball, they got every one of them,” Spoelstra said. “Not only the great shots, but they did all the little things. It’s tough to win when you’re doing both.”

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