[Miami, FL] Fresh off a 6-point win against eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat were fired up to face the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, currently the best team in the Western Conference.
Helping the Heat in this possible NBA Finals preview was the fact that Dwyane Wade was back in the starting line-up after missing a game with an injury. Remember, it was only last week that the Thunder blew out Miami. But, at home in front of a raucous, Wednesday-night crowd, there was a different outcome.
In Miami’s last game, LeBron James dominated Philadelphia’s defense scoring 41 points, and that trend continued against the Thunder. In the first quarter, James scored 10 points and had 2 assists. Kevin Durant kept the Thunder at the same pace as the Heat, scoring 11 points.
At the end of the first, the Thunder were up 23-21. This was not going to be easy.
It seemed as if everything was going to fall apart for the Miami Heat at the 6-minute mark. At that point, they were down by 11. But, James and Wade combined to score 17 points within 6 minutes to take the lead before halftime. At halftime, the Heat were up 50-49.
The role players stepped up in the third quarter for Miami. Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Terrel Harris, and Joel Anthony combined to score 12 points. Chris Bosh also came alive, scoring 8 points. Consequently, the Heat outscored the Thunder 30-24 in the quarter, putting some distance between the two teams.
At the end of three, the Heat were up 80-73 and looking good.
An all-around effort by Miami in the fourth by kept OKC at bay. The Heat took the lead with 8:30 left and never looked back. Battier scored 6 points in the final 8 minutes. LeBron was attacking the basket, and by doing so, he also scored 6 points in the final 8 minutes.
At the end of the game, the final score was Heat 98, Thunder 93.
LeBron James scored 34 points and had 10 assists. Dwyane Wade also contributed, scoring 19 points and had 3 steals.
There was tension during this game as both teams sensed a future post-season meeting. Towards halftime when James jumped to dunk, OKC’s Russel Westbrook pushed James out of mid-air and onto the ground. But, LeBron didn’t find much of a problem with it though.
“Playoff basketball,” James said. “I know Russ. I don’t think he’s a dirty player.”
The Miami Heat are now 39-14 on the season. Their next game is Friday, April 6 versus the Memphis Grizzlies.
By: Michael Tristani II/Sunshine Slate
Image: Copyright 2012 NBAE (photo: Issac Baldizon/NBAE/G