Durant, who scored 17 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter, finished the night 12-of-20 from the field and added eight rebounds as the Thunder rallied from a 13-point deficit to defeat Lebron James and the Miami Heat 105-94.
“That’s what they do, they keep on coming,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said following the game. “They’re relentless.”
In addition to Durant’s spectacular play, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook turned around a poor shooting start to finish with 27, points, 11 assists and 8 boards.
Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 63 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists. They committed only four turnovers for the entire game and outscored the entire Heat team 41-40 in the second half of the game by themselves.
While James shot the ball well early on and finished the game with 30 points, it was ultimately not enough as Durant was the main defender on LeBron late in the contest, holding him to just 2-for-6 shooting in the fourth quarter.
“They made more plays and made shots in the fourth quarter than we did,” said James in a post-game interview. “We have an opportunity now to have a better game plan for Game 2.”
NBA.com reports that James has now lost four straight Finals games, dating back to the Heat’s collapse in the final three contests last year.
During that series, the three-time MVP averaged just three points in the fourth quarters of each of the games, leading many NBA fans to question his ability to perform when it really mattered.
“It drove him all season,” said Miami’s Dwyane Wade, who finished the night with 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting. “After the Finals, he took two weeks off and then he got right back in the gym. He took (the criticism). He didn’t run away from it. He said, ‘I have to play better.’ I’m sure it will continue to drive him.”
Of his team’s opening loss, Wade said, it was “just a game to see” what both teams are going to do and then start making adjustments.
Game 2 of the Thunder vs Heat 2012 NBA Finals match-up is scheduled to go down at 8pm on Thursday night. Highlights for Game 1 of the series can be seen in the video below: