Thunder Rolls To Statement Win
A statement win last night for the Thunder and the statement is, 'there's a new sheriff in town boys.'
You can pin the star on Kevin Durant or you can pin the star on Scotty Brooks. Brooks probably deserves it the most for finally coming to grips with the fact that his normal starting lineup doesn't matchup very well with Miami.
That showed from the start, the Thunder fell behind 15-2 while starting center Kendrick Perkins was playing and the slump continued for a while after Perk sat down.
It was 18-2 and then 22-4 Heat before things started to turn.
Perk is a valuable member of the Thunder squad, almost critical against teams like Memphis and Portland and Indiana and various others.
But against Miami? Nope not so much. In fact he's been more of a liability than an asset against that team. The Thunder had lost six straight to Miami, mostly because the Thunder couldn't (or wouldn't) matchup well with the smaller lineup the Heat kept rolling out.
Last night Brooks sat the big man about halfway through the first quarter and kept him on the bench for the rest of the half.
Brooks then did something he's done only once before since Perk has been in OKC, he kept his starting center on the pine when the second half began, opting to go with Perry Jones instead. Jones length and quickness bothered James for a time and Jones provided some offensive spark too from both inside and outside.
That move kept the Thunder hot streak rolling, now nine straight wins, and turned a woeful 4-22 beginning into a wonderous 112-95 finish.
The Thunder became just the third team in NBA history to trail by as many as 18 points in the first quarter and end up winning by at least 15.
While Brooks was one-upping Eric Spoelstra in coaching moves, Kevin Durant put on another dominating performance.
KD finished with 33 points to extend his streak of 30 point games to 12 straight. LeBron James finished with one more point but it was Durant who stole the show and solidified his grip on the MVP Trophy for now.
There was a great stretch in the third quarter when KD and LBJ traded buckets from inside, outside and all around the arena.
Superstars shining bright on a big national TV stage.
And like I wrote yesterday, this was a BIG game. That six game winning streak the Heat had put together over a couple of years had begun to get into the heads of the Thunder.
Now one game has flipped that.
Kevin Durant went head-to-head with LeBron James and didn't blink, bench players stepped up and came up big and the Thunder head coach made a lineup change that put the Heat on their heels and on notice.
And oh yeah, the Thunder blew out the Heat on the road without Russell Westbrook, remember him?
You can bet the Heat do and you can bet they realize the next time these two teams matchup, a few days after the All-Star Game, that Westbrook might very well be back.
Of course the Heat can take a little solace in knowing they can make it back to The Finals for a third straight year no matter what happens with Oklahoma City because they won't have to worry about the Thunder again until a potential matchup in The Finals.
June is a long way from January but for now the Thunder have thrown the Miami monkey, which had grown to the size of a gorilla, off their backs.