In terms of the game itself, there isn’t much to talk about. While there should be, seeing as last night marked the return of Russell Westbrook, the Heat pretty much dominated from start to finish. The Thunder started with a 4-0 advantage that would be the last one they’d see. Once the Heat took over, it was a done deal.
The game result was a 103-81 smackdown that drops the Thunder’s record to 43-13, while improving the Heat to 39-14. This also ends the season series in a 1-1 split.
The big story of the night was supposed to be the return of Russell Westbrook, but the story ended up being just how out of sync the Thunder looked all night. They finished 2-for-20 from beyond the arc, and didn’t even seem like they could get much going when they attacked the basket. In a way, I’m not really surprised. Not only was Westbrook returning to the court for the first time in nearly two months, the Thunder were taking the court as a unit for the first time in an entire week. Court rust and lack of chemistry were simply to be expected. The most telling stat? The Thunder had a 30-point 2nd quarter, but failed to score 20 points in any of the other three.
Although we did see an interesting (although a bit gruesome) development when LeBron James finished a dunk against Serge Ibaka, then hit the floor writhing in pain. I, like most Thunder fans, thought he was simply trying to sell another foul. Then when he lifted his head up, and you could see the blood dripping profusely from his nose, you knew it wasn’t a simple flop on LeBron’s part. The injury is being referred to as a “nosebleed”, and that James will be further evaluated back in Miami. I’m sorry, but a simple “nosebleed” doesn’t just pour out of someone’s face like that. It looked very similar to the type of bleeding you see from UFC fighters who have had their bells rung. I’ve been in boxing for a long time. I know broken noses when I see them, and I just don’t see how this could be anything else. James must have been riding a huge wave of adrenaline to finish that dunk.
I suppose you could always take a look for yourself, and draw your own conclusion.
Kevin Durant’s 28 points led the Thunder, followed by Westbrook’s 16, and Ibaka’s 14. Other than that, no real Thunder offense of which to speak.
James’ 33 points led all scorers, despite the injury. Chris Bosh dropped 24 points, and Dwayne Wade’s 24 points also came with 10 assists. The 8-man rotation has been working very well for the Heat as of late.
This game was the start of a 6-game home stretch, so at least the Thunder can figure out how to get back into the groove of things in friendly territory. Their next matchup will see another Sunday “High Noon Showdown”, this one against the Clippers. Their season series is currently deadlocked at 1 game apiece, as the Clippers claimed a 111-103 victory at Staples Center back on Nov. 13th, only to lose 105-91 a mere eight days later at “The ‘Peake”. This Noon matchup will be the opening game in ABC’s double-header, or you can catch the national broadcast via ESPN Radio. You can also catch the local broadcast via WWLS The Sports Animal.