LeBron James carried the Miami Heat to a comprehensive 103-81 victory over Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder, tying their seasons series 1-1.
LeBron James scored 33 points before being forced from the floor early in the fourth quarter after taking a forearm to the nose as the Miami Heat evened their season series with the Oklahoma City Thunder 1-1 with a 103-81 road victory.
James burst out of the gates, scoring 16 points on 8-10 shooting in the first quarter, setting the tone for a dominant win for the reigning NBA champs.
The four-time MVP finished with 33 points (15-22 FG), seven rebounds, three assists and four steals, proving too much for OKC’s defence throughout the game.
James is now averaging 37.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists over his last four games, as the MVP race is slowly becoming less of the one-horse race it was after Kevin Durant’s blistering January.
Dwyane Wade added 24 points and 10 assists (only his third double-double of the season) and Chris Bosh scored 24 points (6-9 FG, 11-12 FT) as Miami’s big three scored as many points as the entire Thunder team (81).
James was forced from the court after being struck by an errant Serge Ibaka forearm with 5:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. With his nose bleeding profusely, James returned to the locker room with a towel over his face and did not return.
However, he passed a concussion test after the game and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said it was nothing more than a “swollen nose” that would not stop bleeding.
Durant got off to a slow start, scoring only two points in the first quarter and struggling to just nine by halftime. However, the Thunder’s MVP candidate came home strong, finishing with 28 points (10-22 FG 7-10 FT) and eight rebounds, but he received little help from his teammates.
Russell Westbrook returned to the Thunder lineup after missing 27 games and he got the crowd on their feet after opening the scoring with an emphatic jam.
Despite a minutes restriction (playing only 23:53), Westbrook finished with 16 points and five rebounds in his return.
The loss marks the first time OKC has lost at home since January 5.
Kevin Durant scored 28 points for Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook, who had missed the previous 27 games after having a surgery on his right knee, started and scored 16 points.
Serge Ibaka (14 points on 5-11 shooting) was the only other Thunder player to score in double figures.
Oklahoma City lost at home for the first time since Jan. 5.
Thanks to James’ fast start, Miami raced out to a 34-17 lead at the first break and they never looked back.
The Thunder closed the gap in the second quarter as Westbrook found his feet, bringing them within seven points at halftime. Miami leading 54-47.
However, the Heat once again took control in the third quarter, extending their lead to 76-65 heading into the final change.
A Bosh three-pointer pushed Miami’s lead to 19 points early in the fourth, and the reigning champions were home and hosed.
Adding insult to injury, Oklahoma City lost centre Kendrick Perkins to a groin injury early in the game.
This is the two teams final meeting of the season, setting up an interesting potential showdown in this year’s NBA Finals.