Heat drive past Thunder for Game 2 win
Miami 100, Oklahoma City 96
The Miami Heat are well aware that the Oklahoma City Thunder aren't going away, not after the Thunder nearly rallied from a 17-point deficit Thursday night.
But the Heat also know they're going home with a legitimate chance in these NBA Finals.
Avoiding a 2-0 deficit in these best-of-seven NBA Finals, the Heat held on for a 100-96 victory in Game 2 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, behind 32 points from LeBron James and 24 from guard Dwyane Wade and with forward Chris Bosh returning to their starting lineup to add 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Despite dealing with late foul trouble, forward Kevin Durant scored 32 for the Thunder, with Oklahoma City guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden adding 27 and 21, respectively.
The game was decided when Durant missed an eight-foot runner after previously nailing a 3-pointer that drew the Thunder within two. James made a pair of free throws with 7.1 seconds left to put it away for the Heat.
Earlier, the Thunder's comeback chances sustained what appeared to be a lethal blow, when Durant was called for his fifth foul while contesting a Heat rebound with 10:31 to play.
But Durant then re-entered with a 3-pointer and dunk on consecutive possessions to draw the Thunder within 82-74 with 8:22 to play.
Aware that the Thunder four times this postseason had overcome deficits of 13 or more, the Heat came out with more of an edge in the third quarter than they did in the third period of Game 1, when that game turned with a 27-19 advantage.
While Durant got his offense going in the third, the Heat this time had a more offensive-minded James and a Shane Battier who refused to miss 3-pointers.
It did grow tense early in the third period, when Durant and James each were called for their third fouls. Durant then was called for his fourth foul with 3:31 to play in the third quarter, after sparking a 6-0 Thunder surge.
The Heat took a 78-67 lead into the fourth quarter, with James already with 26 points at that stage.
With Harden finding his way offensively, the Thunder closed what had been a 17-point deficit to 35-25 early in the second period on a Harden driving layup that split three Heat defenders. His scoring was needed, with Durant falling to 1-for-5 from the field and Westbrook 1-of-8.
But the Heat, running more and scoring inside more than in Game 1, again pushed their lead back to 17 on a Mario Chalmers 3-pointer with 2:10 to play in the second period.
The Heat took a 55-43 lead into the intermission, behind 14 first-half points from James.
Harden led the Thunder with 17 first-half points.
Unlike Game 1, when he played a tight rotation, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra this time utilized the likes of Norris Cole and James Jones early, going nine deep in the first quarter. Jones had missed Game 1 with a migraine.
The Thunder opened 1-for-12 from the field, with Westbrook off to another rough start, this time 0-for-5 at the outset. The only Thunder basket during that run was a Durant jumper.
That allowed the Heat to burst to an 18-2 lead, similar to the 13-point lead they built early in their 105-94 Game 1 loss.
The Heat later pushed their lead to 17 in the opening period, going into the second quarter up 27-15.
Along the way, Durant was called for his second foul, with 3:40 left in the opening period, forcing him to the bench, joined there by Westbrook, who also was called for his second foul in the opening period, in which he shot 1-of-7.
The Thunder finally got some spark off the bench in the opening period, with Harden scoring 10 points in the period after closing Game 1 with five.
James led the Heat with eight first-quarter points, with Wade adding seven in the period.