Kevin Durant extended his streak of 30+ point scoring and strengthened his MVP case in Oklahoma City’s comprehensive win over the reigning Champs.
Durant led the way for the Thunder, scoring 33 points (12-23 shooting, 4-9 3PT) and adding seven rebounds and five assists as OKC erased an 18-point deficit during the first quarter to run out eventual 112-95 victors.
Serge Ibaka added 22 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder, while Jeremy Lamb (18 points, 4-6 3PT) and Derek Fisher (15 points, 5-5 3PT) were sensational off the bench.
For Miami, LeBron James was the leading man with 34 points (12-20 shooting), three rebounds and three assists, but aside from 18 points from Chris Bosh (7-14) and 15 points from Dwyane Wade (7-12), the reigning MVP did not receive much help.
Miami exploded out of the gates, and a quick 11 points from Bosh helped them build an 18-point lead during the term.
However, after reducing the gap to nine points at the first break, the Thunder outscored their opponents 91-65 over the last three quarters.
Oklahoma built their lead thanks to some smothering defence and careless ball handling from the Heat (21 turnovers) and used their 13 steals to outscore Miami 20-8 in fast break points.
The Thunder also put on a clinic from downtown, hitting 16-27 threes (59.3%) while Miami struggled to 3-19 (15.8%) for the night.
The win should serve as an exclamation point to Durant’s recent run of form and solidify him as the MVP favourite heading into the All-Star break.
Meanwhile, Miami will be left licking their wounds as a win against a fellow championship contender could have eased some of the pressure on the recently struggling Heat.
The two title hopefuls and their MVP candidates square off again after the All-Star break on Feb. 21st, in Oklahoma City.