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NEWS

Heat outslug Thunder in rematch : 98-93

heat thunder

LeBron James twisted his ankle falling over a videographer, got smacked in the back by a referee, took what he thought was excessive contact twice while attempting dunks and dealt with more pain from his injured left ring finger.

All worth it by night's end.

James had 34 points and 10 assists, Dwyane Wade scored 19 points and the Miami Heat rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-93 on Wednesday night to extend the NBA's longest home winning streak this season to 17 games.

The Heat were down 11 in the second quarter before getting a boost from two hard Oklahoma City fouls, the second being Russell Westbrook pulling James down from behind on a fast break.

And if this was a 1-on-1 battle for the NBA MVP, then advantage James. Kevin Durant scored 30 points for the Thunder, but had a career-high nine turnovers.

"You take the personal challenge," James said.

Mario Chalmers scored 13 points, and Chris Bosh had 12 for Miami (39-14), which moved within two games of Chicago (42-13) in the race for the NBA's best record. Oklahoma City fell to 40-14.

Westbrook scored 28 points for Oklahoma City, but like Durant, he also had his struggles, shooting 9 for 26. James Harden had 12 for the Thunder, who lost despite holding Miami to 37 percent shooting.

"We could have played a lot stronger," Durant said, "but you have to give credit to Miami."

Durant had two shots late that would either have given Oklahoma City the lead or pulled the Thunder into a tie. He backed James down with about 1:30 left and the Heat up by one, then tried a turnaround that caromed off the top of the backboard. Later, with it still a one-possession game out of a timeout, the Thunder went for the quick 3, but Durant's try to tie hit the front of the rim and went out of bounds.

Wade made a pair of foul shots, stretching the lead to five, and it was soon over.

"It was a physical game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "I like that. I'm sure they like it. Neither team backed down."

Oklahoma City's win at home over Miami last week was largely one-sided. For a while, this one looked as if it would go the same way.

Westbrook's three-point play with 7:27 left in the second quarter gave Oklahoma City a 36-25 lead, and that sort of margin typically means a Thunder win -- they came into Wednesday 32-2 when they held a double-digit lead.

Then the game's complexion changed.

The first salvo came with 5:45 left in the half, when Perkins struck Wade in the head while trying to block a shot and both got called for technical and personal fouls, much to the ire of both sides -- Brooks couldn't understand why Perkins merited both, while Heat coach Erik Spoelstra asked why contact to the head wasn't worth a flagrant foul.

The flagrant came 12 seconds later.

Wade stole the ball from Westbrook, flipped it ahead to James, who leaped for a dunk. Westbrook came from behind James, wrapping his left hand over the Heat star's left shoulder and using his right hand to grab him around the waist.

James fell to the court, and emotions started boiling over.

"A scary play. ... A dangerous play," James said.

Referees Bill Kennedy and Olandis Poole jumped into the fray, making sure players didn't go at one another.

Heat President Pat Riley got out of his seat three rows from the court and took a long look at the scene, while normally mild-mannered Miami assistant coach Bob McAdoo had some choice words for anyone who would listen. The end result was a flagrant-1 for Westbrook. James swished a jumper as time in the half expired, and Miami led 50-49.

It was one of the NBA's marquee games this season, and Jets quarterback Tim Tebow -- who James raves about -- was among those watching.

"Don't know who's gonna win," Tebow tweeted in the third quarter, "but KingJames isn't playing around."

Neither were the Thunder.

As soon as the Heat went up by nine late in the third, their biggest lead to that point, the Thunder came back with a 10-0 run to reclaim the lead. Durant started the burst with a 12-footer with 3 seconds left in the quarter, then Oklahoma City scored the first eight of the fourth to go back on top 81-80.

By that point, it was clear this one was going to the wire.

"Two very good teams," Wade said. "It was a playoff atmosphere here tonight. Good game, great for the fans and great competition."

The Heat believe that there's a perception around the league that they're a "soft" team, one that can be beaten when opponents take it to them physically.

Winning a game like this -- with James getting pulled down, Bosh sporting a fat upper lip after needing a stitch, Wade getting hit in the face at one point as well might change that, Spoelstra said.

"Our truth," Spoelstra said. "That's what tonight was about and that's what really every day is about for our group. ... We know what we're capable of."



Source : cbssports
4.5.2012 02:54
This article has been read a total of 390 times.
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