Lebron James led the Heat with 29 points and 14 rebounds as Miami knocked off the foul-ridden Oklahoma City Thunder at home in game 3 of the 2012 NBA Finals 91-85.
The Heat now take a 2-1 series lead with game 4 taking place this Tuesday night in Miami.
FOULS HURT THE THUNDER
For the 2nd-straight game, Thunder star Kevin Durant (25 points, 6 rebounds, 11 for 19 shooting) found himself in early foul trouble.
Durant picked up his fourth foul midway through the third. He sat for the final five minutes and 41 seconds of the quarter as the Thunder saw their 10 point lead turn into a two point deficit.
Point guard Russell Westbrook (19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) also sat out the end of the third (Coach Brooks pulled him for his play) as the Heat closed the quarter on a 16-7 run. The Heat stole all of the momentum from OKC at that point and never looked back.
After going 7 for 11 from the field in game 2, James Harden all but disappeared in game 3. Harden finished with just 9 points on 2 for 10 shooting. He also missed all 4 of his three-point attempts.
With the Thunder down just 3 with 27 seconds left on the clock, Harden gave up a stupid blocking foul to Lebron James that basically sealed the Heat victory.
I appreciate his aggressiveness and what not, but with James basically hovering around mid-court, it would have been wise to just give him the space and try and defend the perimeter. Lebron can’t score from way back there, so why risk it? It was a bad decision by James Harden. If the Thunder had made a stop, they could have used one of their final timeouts, taken the ball halfway up the court and possibly tied the game with a three. With Hardens nonsensical foul, we will never know what could have happened.
BIG THREE HOLD IT DOWN
Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh scored the final 15 points for Miami in the fourth quarter.
That doesn’t mean that all 3 players had stellar games by any means.
Dwayne Wade did finish with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists, but he shot poorly from the field (8 for 22) and turned the ball over 5 times. Chris Bosh wasn’t any better as he finished with just 10 points on 3 for 12 shooting. He did grab 11 rebounds though to finish with a double-double.
The real hero was Lebron James and his 29 points and 14 rebounds. James had never broken the 25 mark in any Finals game prior to this season. In his first 3 tries against Oklahoma City, he has broken that plateau every single game. He has shown an assertiveness to drive to the basket more and not settle for lazy jumpers.
All 3 superstars did enough to get this win for the Heat. The Heat only got 27 points from players not named James, Wade or Bosh. It still has to be considered a positive that Miami still managed to pull out a Finals win despite not getting great shooting from 2 of the Big Three.
With games 4 and 5 still at home in South Beach, the Miami Heat now hold their destiny in their own hands.
Hold down home court…..and the title is yours.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
“He’s got to play smarter (Kevin Durant). Those were fouls. Maybe the charge was kind of questionable, but at the end of the day, they’re fouls. We need him on the court at all times, so he may have to give up a layup. He just has to play smarter, and I think Kevin will.” – Thunder center Kendrick Perkins
”Just trying to make plays. I told you guys, last year I didn’t make enough game-changing plays, and that’s what I kind of pride myself on. I didn’t do that last year in the finals. I’m just trying to make game-changing plays, and whatever it takes for our team to win, just trying to step up in key moments and be there for my teammates.” – Heat forward Lebron James
TWEETS OF THE GAME
Kevin Durant has four problems, and a foul is every single one.
— ESPN (@espn) June 18, 2012
The Miami Heat report that Lebron James is on a liquid diet to prevent choking.
— Alan Garner (@WoIfpack) June 18, 2012
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
James Harden throws the ally-oop pass to Kevin Durant!
(Game 4) Tuesday June 19th, 9:00 ET, ABC
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports