Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat nearly blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead, but somehow managed to hold off the Thunders late rally to defeat Oklahoma City 100-96 on the road.
This best-of-7 series is now tied at 1 game a piece with the next 3 games taking place in Miami.
DID THE THUNDER GET SCREWED?
The basketball fan in me wants to say YES, but the analyst in me who watched the entire 48 minutes has to say NO.
This game really shouldn’t have been as close as it was near the end, but regardless of that fact, the Thunder did have a legit chance to pull out the win in the final moments.
With 12 seconds left in the game and down by just 2 points, Kevin Durant (32 points, 12 for 22 shooting, 3 rebounds) took a leaner along the baseline that went off the side of the rim and was pulled down by Lebron James. James then proceeded to hit 2 free throws to put the game out of reach.
If you look closely at the play, you can see the forearm of James planted into Durant’s chest and hooked under his arm. In my opinion, that should have been called as a foul. Ultimately it wasn’t and the Heat capitalized on it.
I hate when games as critical as the NBA Finals are decided by controversial calls like this, but I can’t put all of the blame on the referees in this case.
The Thunder didn’t play the best of games on this night. OKC came out shooting as cold as ice as they found themselves down 18-2 early in the first quarter. They finished game 2 shooting a mediocre 43% from the field and 73% from the free-throw line. Russell Westbrook (27 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) had a solid stat line, but he couldn’t buy a bucket in the opening 2 quarters. At halftime, ESPN analyst and former NBA all-star Magic Johnson called Westbrook’s first half performance the worst he’s ever seen by a point guard in Finals history!
Maybe the loss should be pinned on the role players surrounding Westbrook, Durant and James Harden (21 points, 4 rebounds). Sefolosha, Perkins, Ibaka, Collison and Fisher combined for 16 points on 5 for 20 shooting.
Surprisingly enough, the Thunder were very much in this game during the final moments despite the horrible all-around play. If anything positive can be taken away from game 2, it’s that OKC had a chance to win even though they may have played their worst outing of this postseason.
Just don’t pin this loss on that last shot by Durant and the missed call by the referees. That’s all I’m saying.
HEAT NOW IN THE DRIVERS SEAT
This win was HUGE for the Miami Heat. Calling it huge may be actually be an understatement.
After splitting the first 2 games in Oklahoma City, the Heat now head back to South Beach for games 3, 4 and 5 on their home court. They could close out this series before the Thunder ever get the chance to return home.
At least for one night, criticism of Lebron James is non-existent. He had himself a tremendous game. Lebron finished with 32 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. He was also deadly from the free-throw line as he nailed all 12 of his shots from the charity stripe, including 2 in the final seconds that sealed the victory.
Dwayne Wade also bounced back from a terrible game 1 performance as he scored 24 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. After scoring just 19 points on 19 shots in game 1, Wade was able to drive the ball more effectively and hit more of his open jumpers.
For the 2nd straight Finals game, Shane Battier was absolutely clutch from three-point territory. He hit 5 of his 7 attempts from long-range and finished the night with 17 points.
Game 2 was a must-win situation for Miami and they got the job done, even though they nearly blew it again in the final quarter. This was the first home loss for Oklahoma City during these playoffs. The Thunder are more than capable of stealing a victory or 2 in Miami, but it must be reassuring to know that the team will have 3 straight games away from the rowdy fans of Oklahoma City.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”On a big stage like this in a big game like this, every point counts, every point matters. So you go to the free throw line, no matter how hostile the environment, and try to knock them down. Like I said, I’m happy that I was able to go up there and make a few plays, go up there and make my free throws. We needed it. We needed every point tonight.” – Heat forward Lebron James
‘‘That was the game. We can’t start off down 18-2. We can’t go down that much, especially at home. We’ve got to correct it.” – Thunder forward Kevin Durant
TWEETS OF THE GAME
“Russell Westbrook PASSED to Kevin Durant?!” -America
— Not Brian Scalabrine (@BScalabrine24) June 15, 2012
LeBron is being guarded by James Harden. Why is he not taking it hard to the paint? Oh I forgot – 4th quarter. Sorry folks. Move on.
— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) June 15, 2012
– What could have been a series-defining dunk by Lebron James turned into one of the more spectacular blocks of Serge Ibaka’s (7 points, 5 blocks) career. I’m sure Dikembe Mutombo didn’t appreciate that finger wag though.
– I wonder if any of this animosity that rapper Lil Wayne has towards the Oklahoma City Thunder has anything to do with James Harden and his relationship with Wayne’s ex-lover Trina…..hmmmmmmm.
Sunday June 17th, 8:00 pm ET, ABC
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports