Another Triple-Double For Russ As Thunder Roll
By Randy Renner
For the first half it was a knock down, drag out kinda game. The Miami defense, 3rd best in the NBA against scoring, had held the Thunder to just 44 points on 36.2 percent shooting.
But it was the Thunder who had the lead by a basket and in the second half the Thunder offense caught fire and burned the Heat leading to a runaway 99-74 win.
Russell Westbrook notched another triple-double (his second straight) with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 24 points while pulling down 10 rebounds.
Neither Thunder superstar had a very good shooting night, Durant was 8-for-20 and Westbrook 5-for-16, but their constant offensive threat kept Heat defenders busy and opened things up for other guys.
Serge Ibaka had 19 points and 7 rebounds and Dion Waiters had another good night 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting coming off the bench.
A two minute stretch in the third quarter blew things open for OKC. Andre Roberson started things off with an alley-oop dunk off a Westbrook pass and Russ found Dre again on the next possession for a layup. The Thunder then hit consecutive threes on three straight possessions, one from KD, one from Ibaka and the last from Westbrook to push a 53-48 Thunder lead at the 7:25 mark out to 66-50 with 5:27 left in the third.
"We got stops, coach called some good plays and we made three threes in a row to bust it open," Durant said. "That's like a backbreaker."
And indeed it was, the Heat could never get closer than a dozen points and trailed by as many as 28 late in the game.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was disappointed in the way his team came out of the break.
"The first six or seven minutes of that third quarter were clearly not at the level that was needed to grind out and make it a possession game going down the stretch," he said.
The Thunder scored 55 points on 56.1 percent shooting in the second half while holding the Heat to just 32 points on 40.0 percent shooting. Dwyane Wade, who scored 18 points in the first half had just four more after the break and center Hassan Whiteside who dominated in Miami’s Friday win at Denver was solid but not spectacular with 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
OKC handed out 24 assists in the game while forcing 21 Miami turnovers.
The Thunder swept their three-game homestand winning every game by at least 19 points and have now won four straight overall. During the streak the offense has been outstanding as usual but the defense has shown marked improvement holding teams to just 88 points on 41 percent shooting.
If the Thunder have turned the corner on the defensive end this team will be tough for anyone to deal with going forward.