Published November 20, 2014
The Heat started Game 2 of the NBA Finals with a sense of urgency, survived an inevitable Thunder run, and managed to hold on for a 100-96 win on Thursday.
Miami never trailed and led by as many as 17, but the Thunder rallied late and pulled within two on Kevin Durant's three-pointer with less than a minute to go.
LeBron James had 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Miami, which pulled even in the series after squandering a double-digit advantage in Tuesday's Game 1 loss.
Dwyane Wade, whose production has been spotty at times in this postseason, added 24 points and Chris Bosh had 16 and 15 rebounds -- seven offensive. Shane Battier chipped in 17 points and made 5-of-7 three-pointers.
Durant finished with 32 points, but missed a potential game-tying baseline runner with 9.9 seconds remaining. Russell Westbrook had 27 and James Harden scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half for the Thunder, who suffered their first home loss of these playoffs.
Game 3 will be Sunday in Miami.
"I like the way we came back and fought and made it a one possession game at the end, but when you get down 17 too many things have to happen well for you and perfect for you," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
The Heat opened play with an 18-2 run and were in control for the majority of the night, yet the threat of an Oklahoma City run loomed.
The inevitable occurred early in the fourth quarter when Durant scored five straight, nailing a three before driving for a one-handed slam, which cut the Thunder deficit to single digits.
Later, Westbrook cleaned up Durant's miss on a reverse layup, making it 94-91, but James hit a bank shot on the other end before Wade drove and dropped a pass to Bosh for a slam.
Durant answered with five in a row, making a layup and then a trey off a Wade turnover to make it 98-96 with 37.5 seconds left.
After missing a three, James contested Durant's baseline runner, which found iron, and then drained a pair of free throws to seal the series-tying victory.
"I think this postseason and everything we have been through has shown that this group has resourcefulness, a resolve, a resiliency. We are a very stubborn group," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.
Wade, who has been dealing with an ailing left knee, started strong and tallied 13 first-half points and four of his team's seven assists. James added 14 points and Battier made 3-of-4 threes as Miami dominated the early action, going up by 17 on more than one occasion before taking a 55-43 lead into the break.
"We were trying to play to our identity. (Wade) set the tone at the beginning," said Spoelstra.
The score may have been even more lopsided if it weren't for the play of Harden, who buoyed his floundering squad while Durant and Westbrook struggled to get going.
Harden had 17 points -- including 10 in the first quarter -- while Durant had six on 3-of-9 shooting and Westbrook scored nine while going 2-of-10 from the field.
In Game 1 Durant and Westbrook combined to outscore the entire Miami team -- 41-40 -- after intermission, but James scored 12 third-quarter points on Thursday and the Heat held a 78-67 lead entering the fourth.
Miami's bench totaled just eight points. Oklahoma City's reserves scored 23, but Harden accounted for 21 of those points...Thunder forward Serge Ibaka had seven points and five blocks.