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NBA finals Game 2: Miami holds off… or holds on to beat Thunder

Jun 15, 2012, 12:48 AM EDT

Miami Heat's James goes to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder's Durant during Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals in Oklahoma City Reuters

You knew it was coming.

For the first three quarters the Miami Heat played the game they needed to play to get a win in this series — LeBron James was driving the lane, Dwyane Wade looked like his old aggressive self, Chris Bosh was providing the size inside they need, the Heat defense (particularly transition defense) was much better and Shane Battier was knocking down shots. The Heat led by as many as 17 and by double digits almost the entire first 36 minutes.

But you knew a Thunder run at home was coming.

And they got close in the final six minutes, very close. After a clever steal by Derek Fisher that led to a transition Kevin Durant three, the Thunder had cut the lead to two with 37 seconds remaining. After a terrible possession that ended with a missed LeBron James three, the Thunder had a chance to tie.

That’s when it happened. OKC got the ball to Durant, who spun baseline on James and James hooked him under the arm. It was a foul, Durant shot and missed but there was no call. Miami got the rebound, LeBron was fouled, hit his free throws and that did it.

Miami won 100-96 to even the series at 1-1.

This was a wildly entertaining ending, the second fun game in a row in what is shaping up to be an even and classic series.

The focus in Game 2 will be on the last play and the no call, but every time something like this comes up, I go back to an old coach of mine. We were complaining about a lost game on a bad call and he said (I’ll paraphrase with language I can use on a family-friendly blog): “If you guys hadn’t sucked in the second quarter the referee wouldn’t have been in position to decide it.”

Miami won this game or the Thunder lost this game — depending on your perspective — in the first half. The last play did not decide it. Miami only won one quarter in this game, the first — every other quarter was tied or won by the Thunder. But you can lose a game in the first just as easily as at the end.

Miami raced out to an 18-2 lead from the opening tip. On one end the Thunder shot 5-for-20 to start the game as the Heat put on better defensive pressure, particularly LeBron on Durant. On the other end Wade was driving Miami — after looking slowed and hobbled in Game 1 he looked like his 2006 self again. Well, maybe with a few less crashes to the ground. He was attacking the lane from the start, getting his own shot and setting up Battier for a corner three. Meanwhile Chris Bosh was working off the weak side more.

Wade finished with 24 points, Bosh had 16 points and 15 boards, LeBron had 32 points on 22 shots, Battier had 17 points and was 5-of-7 from three. Their offense clicked because they ran sets — the pick-and-roll was going on one side but Bosh or someone else was moving off weak side action to get free also. The Heat moved the ball.

Then they got back on defense. Up until midway through the third the Thunder had no fast break points. Those easy buckets are what get the Thunder going and the Heat stopped them for a long stretch.

For three quarters, it would feel like the Thunder were about to make a big run but the Heat shut it down quickly and held the lead. Kevin Durant battled foul trouble and was more passive than normal, while Kendrick Perkins was bad. (Why he played so much instead of Serge Ibaka is confusing.)

Until the fourth quarter

Harden had kept the Thunder in it but in the fourth it was Durant and Westbrook. Durant finished with 32, Westbrook 27.

It was a fantastic, exciting comeback. But it took so much energy to come so far back, they couldn’t finish it off.

The Thunder can’t just come from behind every game and win this series. They were 1-1 doing that at home, it will be harder to come back on the road. They need to find a faster start.

For Miami, this was the kind of game they needed to play to win, but do you really have any confidence they can keep doing it consistently? They haven’t yet in the playoffs.

It’s a best of five now and what we’ve got is one exciting NBA finals. That’s all we can really ask for, because we can’t and shouldn’t expect the officials to be perfect.

  1. redbullenergydrink - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    Magic said it best himself, “The game was not lost on that last Thunder possession, it was lost in the first quarter.” How can you Thunder fans complain about a play at the end when your team didn’t show up in the first half. Be mad at the Thunder, not the refs!

    • letangusespertplus - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:55 AM

      so are you saying it wasn’t a foul?

      • finalword33 - Jun 15, 2012 at 8:12 AM

        Go through film, and find all the fouls that weren’t called, and THEN talk about one foul.

      • lyndseymarieee - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:44 AM

        It doesn’t matter if it was a foul or not. I’m a Thunder fan. Yes it was a foul. But if the Thunder had played with as much fire in their gut the WHOLE game instead of when they were trying to make that comeback, they probably would have won. The refs aren’t the reason the Thunder shot 25% in the first quarter or not. I don’t care if we are better than Miami or not, you can’t shoot like that in the NBA Finals and expect to win.

        That being said, the Thunder are still in it. I think home court advantage will be a big boost should it end up going to 7 games.

    • scalfor3 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:00 AM

      the blame should ultimately fall on the thunder for coming out flat, but that doesn’t change the fact that it should’ve been durant shooting 2 to tie. an obvious call like that shouldnt be missed with those kind of stakes

      • minnesota32 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:21 AM

        Let’s not forget an argument can be made that Durant should have already been fouled out of the game at that point which is why I think it’s foolish when people try and pin the outcome of a game on one play (not saying that’s what you’re doing).

      • caseybojangles - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:23 AM

        1. ibaka’s fouled james on his monster hammer dunk early in the game…no call
        2. james got called on a westbrook layup late in the game and got an and 1 where james did not foul him
        3. durant should have fouled out on a charge but battier got called for blocking

        big deal…so what? could go on and on…stop making excuses for losing. calls are missed and bad calls are made.

      • scalfor3 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:25 AM

        true but you could also argue that some of his earlier fouls were of the “ticky tack” variety blah blah blah.

        its obvious that the game came down to far more than that one play, but they shouldve gotten the chance to possibly tie there. its not like it was a 50-50 play it was a pretty clear foul

    • bougin89 - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      Its extremely difficult to go up 18-2(or whatever it was) to start a game against any team in the NBA, including teams like the Bobcats and Hornets. For the Thunder to start that bad, they definitely deserved to lose and that ultimately was the game, however, not only did the ref miss Lebron fouling Durant he missed Lebron obviously traveling after he got the rebound. You can’t miss both of those, no way should Lebron have been shooting free throws, if anything it should have been OKC ball.

  2. thenmoveback - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Before anyone starts blaming the refs on that last Durant shot, let’s remember he should have fouled out with several minutes left on that charge they DID NOT call. Lebron played like the MVP.

    • letangusespertplus - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:53 AM

      its not a charge if the player is in already in the upward motion before the defender gets his feet set.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:14 AM

      Battier looked like he was playing LIMBO, sliding in underneath him. LIKE HE ALWAYS DOES. DON’T YOU EVEN TRY IT.

      • caseybojangles - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:24 AM

        please…that was a charge. durant got a superstar call at home.

      • borderline1988 - Jun 15, 2012 at 7:31 AM

        Was definitely a charge. Battier was there before Durant was, in perfect position.

        That’s the best part of being at home, there’s no way the refs are going to kick your superstar out of a tight NBA Finals game with only a few minutes left.

        The other thing is that Durant’s look on that last play was good. He just simply missed it. Whether he was fouled or not is an argument for sore losers. Durant had only himself to blame. Should have hit that shot, shouldn’t have gone like 1/5 in the 1rst, should have literally taken the ball away from Westbrook at times and not let him shoot.

        THe THunder obviously love to come back from behind in the 4th, but this is the NBA Finals, against the best (or second best) team in the league. You can’t rely on that anymore.

      • bougin89 - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:10 AM

        I think Battier got there in time, was set, and was outside the restricted area…should have been a charge. Just another example of how terrible the officiating has been. The refs have been so inconsistent its hard to watch.

      • lyndseymarieee - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:48 AM

        I may be mistaken but Pierce and James both fouled out in a crucial OT game in the Eastern Conference Finals. I don’t think the refs have any qualms about fouling out superstars in big games.

  3. badintent - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    Tonight, LNJ, Haslem and Bosh out played Perkins , Ibaka and Collison in the paint . WHERE REAL MEN deal and Pound. Yes, I know Shane hit a monster 40 foot 3 to really win the game. Harden, Durant and Westbrook settled for too many jump shots. Take out the easy Thunder fast break baskets and they lose by 10.Pound the Rock, pound your girlfriend, pound , pound, pound !In other news, Kim Kardarshian was seen entering the Heat locker room wearing knee pads………………………

    • teamobijuan - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      Ibaka outplayed anyone in the paint this game.

  4. jucam1 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    Good, fair article Kurt!….. LBJ and the Heat won this game fair and square….. Is there another basketball player on this planet that is as close to taking down LBJ as much as KD is?…. Are any of you focused on the fact that this is the next “Bird and Magic”. (mad respect, not sure these two are as good)…. This is amazing though, how GREAT are these two players and their leadership skills!!!!

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:38 AM

      Is that you, Stevie Wonder?

  5. rickyspanish - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    Sorry the Heat won Helin, that must’ve been tough for you to watch. Don’t worry though buddy, this article did a great job detracting from Miami’s victory. Like you said, Miami is inconsistent, the officiating isn’t perfect and they take quarters off blah blah blah. The Thunder got worked. When Jon Barry and Helin cuddle at night, who’s the big spoon?

    • scalfor3 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:07 AM

      yeah if theres anything helin’s known for its being too harsh on the heat

  6. canehouse - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Yeah that play was a foul… ref didn’t see it… as the refs didn’t see other fouls both ways throughout the game. Give it rest… these kind of happenings have been going on for a very long time.

    What a game… and i expect a continued amazing series we are all very lucky to watch it. This series is going to be a long one… the scary, stressful part for us HEAT fans… we possibly will have to win in okc again.

    AAA is going to be geeked up on Sunday evening… can’t wait!!!!!

  7. rickyspanish - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:14 AM


    Read the last two weeks of his terrifically edited gems about the Heat, if you don’t see that he’s jumped on the media bandwagon, you and I are reading different articles my friend.

  8. mikejd12 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:23 AM

    Durant should have fouled out one person gives me that garbage they should shut it

  9. dirtybird2020 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:25 AM

    Where were u nutthuggers 2 days ago….. Thats true miami fans, u queers are like kids who believe in santa untill u realize he isnt real and get letdown..lebron is ur santa and he is ur letdown lol, cant wait to rub it in ur gay citys faces when u gets no ring! Lbj will choke like he does his whole career! Hahahhaha, ps id pound ur gf and have u watch with good intent! Hahaha

    • minnesota32 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:30 AM

      People might take you a little more serious if you elevate your maturity level past the 5th grade.

      • edweird0 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:54 AM

        Speak for yourself.

    • canehouse - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:56 AM

      dirtbird is a cok chugger… no question about that.

    • ceschatz - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      Gay city? Just because you cant afford to come to Miami doesnt make it gay.

  10. rodgersmvp - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:25 AM

    I love how there is no mention of LeBron’s dagger or his two clutch free throws at the end. People write to fit their own narratives.

    • scalfor3 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:36 AM

      that bank shot was filthy. absolutely filthy

      but free throws? do we need to sing his praises for making 2 free throws (clutch as they were)? great players should be EXPECTED to make them in that situation.

      • rodgersmvp - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:38 AM

        Durant didn’t make both of his free throws after the “blocking” foul on Shane Battier. If LeBron were in his shoes he would’ve been massacred by the media.

      • caseybojangles - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:41 AM

        don’t disagree with you on either point…ridiculous bank and 2 clutch free throws that put the game away but you know very well if he missed even one of those free throws the stupid narrative that he can’t handle the big moments would be the headline.

  11. mikejd12 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Don’t you even try it battier was in position!!! Durant should have fouled out. Even my boy that is pulling for okc said the same thing

  12. mikejd12 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Dirtybird your full of it, I’ve been calling your sorry azz out for weeks. Hiding in your dirty cage since Lebron dropped 45!

  13. rickyspanish - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:34 AM


    You are why this country is falling behind the world in education. Someone who calls people out using homophobic slurs while using 14 year old high school girl shorthand is not someone to be taken seriously in any situation. Keep it up pal, you’re doing great.

  14. tommy972 - Jun 15, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    I was more impressed that Durant, stayed in game with 5 fouls and 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter and he was on the verge of leading a comeback. Sadly the Thunder came up short, hats off to the Heat. Like someone said before, it gets interesting when a team loses at home.

    • blueintown - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:34 AM

      Agreed, Durant showed tremendous savvy by keeping himself on the floor with five fouls while maintaining a high level of play. Just as impressive, he didn’t make any excuses after the game. More and more impressed with him each passing game.

      • ceschatz - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:14 AM

        I agree. Now if only his fans can follow his example and quit making excuses.

  15. angulocarlos1 - Jun 15, 2012 at 2:26 AM


    Kevin Durant was wide open for a question during the post-game conference, but Westbrick decided to answer it.

    • heat256 - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:10 AM

      Now THAT was funny

  16. doublenine99 - Jun 15, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    Did anyone watch the game? Or just caught the recap? Im not a thunder fan, but in the play were battier got the offensive foul the call was correct and there was no charge. Battier didnt finish draggin his left foot into place , till after durant had both feet in the air.

  17. lmvs2012 - Jun 15, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    Lucky heat!

  18. bobthedude - Jun 15, 2012 at 5:08 AM

    I’m tired of hearing that the thunder should have played better and it wouldn’t have come down to one call. Dumb argument. I don’t care how many chances okc had to win, doesn’t change the fact that they got screwed with the game on the line. Ur nuts if you say bad calls went both ways. Miami gets bailed out every time they miss an opportunity to answer an okc bucket. Clearly the nba realizes its bad business for its biggest star, lequit, to be ringless and they are trying to gift wrap this ring for Miami. That’s why they beat Boston. And Boston was just too old to overcome it. Luckily okc is too talented to get screwed out of the whole series. Thunder in 6

    • borderline1988 - Jun 15, 2012 at 7:38 AM

      Miami got screwed out of that charge that Battier took on Durant. That would and should have ended the game right there.
      So what’s your point?

      Btw, in both of these games, OKC had more FTs than Miami, even though I would argue that Miami has been more aggressive to the rim. It’s called homecourt advantage, and I’ll bet you that it’ll shift a bit in Miami.
      Referees aren’t out to screw visiting teams, but when there’s a borderline call to be made on a superstart in front of a racous crowd, don’t tell me that there judgement isn’t at least a tiny bit affected…it;s human nature

  19. lemfax - Jun 15, 2012 at 7:17 AM

    Yeah that’s foul, but basketball is 6% ref decision & 94% team effort. The best team should stand up to the an end.

  20. paulhargis53 - Jun 15, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Thunder in 5. Heat blew their wad in this one and only won by 4 points.
    It’s all set up for OKC to win at home.

    Trust you’re good ol’ Uncle Paul.
    Shuuure, uh huh huh.

  21. scorpwood - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Except, Paul, for OKC to win at home they would have to win it in 6.

  22. truthhurtstoo - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Mr. Wrong… shut up already. Your homerism is showing badly.

    paulhargis- you’re dreaming to think the Thunder can win all 3 in Miami. Use your head next time before you post.

    never making it to canton- also, shut up already. We feel your pain!

  23. truthhurtstoo - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    the Thunder trailed by double digit points for most of the game… didn’t serserve to win. Heat steal home court!

  24. trimaster1 - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    The heat led by double digits in BOTH games. That’s great for Miami, bad for OKC. They can’t keep coming back from behind to win. If they try do that in Miami they’re in trouble.

  25. paulhargis53 - Jun 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Isn’t that what all you Heat fans did after every loss before? Annoying isn’t it.
    Look dummy, if the Celtics who are old and had a tonvof injuries, could take them 3 in a row (2 in Miami). There is zero reason why OKC can’t take them 3 in a row. OKC is younger and better.
    Usr your head and quit being a homer!

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      I guess we’ll just see how it plays out.

      I like the Heat’s chances, especially with home court.

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