2012 NBA Finals: LeBron James, Miami Heat hold off Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 in Game 2


LeBron James scored a Finals career-high 32 points as the Miami Heat survived a late fourth quarter comeback by Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder to steal Game 2 on the road 100-96 and take control of home court advantage in the series.

James was 12-12 from the foul-line in the contest — it’s only the second time in his playoff career he’s made at least 12 free-throws without a miss, he also added eight rebounds and six assists in his 42 minutes of action. Dwayne Wade poured in 24 points, and had six rebounds and five assists, Shane Battier chipped in with 17 points and was five-of-seven from behind the arc, Chris Bosh got his first start for the Heat after returing from injury and shined, he posted a double-double by halftime and finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds — seven were offensive boards. No other Heat player scored more than three points.

Kevin Durant led the way for OKC and tied James’ mark of 32 points in the game, half of which came in the fourth quarter making him the only player since the ABA-NBA merger 36 years ago to score 16 or more fourth quarter points in consecutive NBA Finals games. Russell Westbrook poured in 27 points on 10-of-26 shooting and added eight boards and seven assists, James Harden chipped in with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting and converted five-of-seven free-throws. The other five Thunder players combined for 16 points in the contest.

The Heat opened the game on fire as LeBron and Co. jumped out to a commanding 18-2 advantage after the first seven and a half minutes of play. Durant matched-up with James to start with, however, that didn’t work out so good as James proved to be too strong to handle for the 3-time scoring champ.

In the 18-2 span, LBJ was three-of-four from the field when guarded by KD. When guarded by Thabo Sefolosha, however, James was only one-of-four. After five periods of play, James was 10-of-16 (62.5%) when guarded by Durant, but only 3-of-11 (27.2%) when guarded by Sefolosha.

James Harden checked in the game with the Thunder down by 14 points and single handily brought OKC back into striking distance by scoring 10 points in last four minutes of the first quarter. Harden’s 10-point period ties his highest scoring output in opening period (regular-season and playoffs) and shrunk OKC’s deficit to 27-15 at the end of the opening period.

The Thunder didn’t make up any ground in the second quarter as the Heat kept their foot on the gas on the offensive end and locked up their assignments on the defensive end. OKC trailed 55-43 at halftime.

Durant struggled the entire first half and entered the break with only six points on three-of-nine shooting while missing all five attempts from behind the arc. Westbrook was just as worse, only hitting 2-of-10 from the floor and two pairs of free-throws for nine points. Usually its been Wade whose played rather terrible in the first half, but he made a conscious effort to be more aggressive and assert his authority early in Game 2. He had five field goal attempts inside five feet in the first 5:21 of Game 2, he only had four field goal attempts inside five feet in all of Game 1.

The Heat outscored the Thunder 24-10 inside five feet in the first half after Miami was outscored by 20 from that distance in Game 1. Miami’s “Big 3” had 10 of the Heat’s 12 made field goals from inside that close.

Miami was also a lot better in transition than Oklahoma City, outscoring them by a 10-0 margin in fast break points — the first time in the last three post-seasons that the Thunder have been held scoreless in that category in an opening half.

Bosh was extremely effective in the first half, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, marking his first double-double this postseason. James and Wade were also in double-figures by halftime. It’s the second time this postseason James, Wade and Bosh each have 10+ points in first half — the other time they did it was in their Game 2 win in the first round against the New York Knicks. The Heat are 7-1 this season, including playoffs, when their Big 3 each have 10 or more points in the first half.

Miami extended their lead in the third quarter to as many as 15 points, but OKC made a little run to end the period and cut the deficit to 11 points. Then the fourth quarter came. That’s when the Thunder finally seemed to be playing with rhythm, and with their backs against the wall, fought their back from a double-digit deficit to cut the Miami’s lead to just one possession, 91-94, with 1:47 left in the game.

The Heat added a pair of buckets by James and Bosh over the next minute and appeared to be  on the verge of closing out the game with ease but Kevin Durant scored five straight points in 17 seconds to bring the Thunder within two points.

However, he missed a game-tying shot with nine seconds left on the clock and LeBron sank two clutch free-throws to seal the victory. The loss is the first lose at home for the Thunder in these playoffs (won all previous 10 in OKC). Kevin Durant was 3-4 this postseason on game-tying/go-ahead FG in final 24 sec of 4th qtr/OT before that last miss.

The series is now tied 1-1. Game 3 is in Miami on Sunday at 8:00 PM (ET).

Game Notes

Game 2 was the first time all season both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had two fouls in the first quarter.

Shane Battier has hit four 3-pt FG in 3 straight games. Last player to do that in 4 consecutive games in the same postseason was Dennis Scott in 1995.

LeBron James has scored 25+ points in 12 straight games, 2nd-longest such streak in his postseason career (17).

Kevin Durant has scored 22+ points in 23 consecutive postseason games, the longest active streak in the NBA (26 tonight)

Durant has 68 points in the first two games of the Championship round, marking the 3rd-most points scored in a player’s first two career NBA Finals games in history (Iverson, Jordan).

In the fourth quarter of his first two NBA Finals games, Durant has 33 combined points. That’s 10 more points than any other player since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976.

Fast break points: Heat outscored Thunder 10-0 in 1st half. Thunder outscored Heat 11-0 in 2nd half.