NBA News Wire

Heat 103, Thunder 81

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OKLAHOMA CITY– Forward LeBron James scored 33 points to lead the Miami Heat past the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-81 on Thursday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

It was James’ fourth consecutive game to go past the 30-point mark. He did this despite leaving the game with a bloody nose after being hit in the face by Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka.

The Thunder (43-13) entered the fourth quarter trailing by only 11. Several times this year, it has made comebacks in the final period spurred on by its bench.

However, it was the Heat’s (39-14) bench who began the process of closing out Oklahoma. Shots by guard Ray Allen and center Chris Bosh quickly pushed Miami’s advantage to 19 before Durant could check back into the game and slow the bleeding.

With Westbrook on a minutes restriction, he was not brought back into the game until midway through the period. By then, the Heat had complete control.

James left the court with 5:43 left and Miami leading 90-74. Despite that, the Thunder could not make a dent and never threatened the rest of the way as guard Dwayne Wade shouldered the load.

Wade ended the night with 24 points on 11-for-17 shooting to go along with 10 assists. Bosh added 24 points and eight rebounds.

Durant paced the Thunder with 28 points, eight rebounds and five turnovers. Westbrook posted 16 points and two assists in 24 minutes of work. Ibaka scored 14 points and grabbed eight boards. However, he had only one blocked.

James didn’t wait for the game to come to him in the opening quarter. The four-time MVP took the game to the Thunder as he scored 14 points in the first six minutes of action.

Conversely, Durant was just as passive. He didn’t make a shot until there was 5:13 left in quarter. It allowed the Heat to go ahead 34-17 heading into second quarter.

Miami pushed its lead to 19 points before Oklahoma City slowly went about the business of grinding away at the deficit. And it was guard Reggie Jackson and forward Perry Jones III who did the heavy lifting.

But it was a late scoring outburst by Westbrook that pulled the Thunder to within 54-47 at halftime.

NOTES: The Miami Heat dealt G Roger Mason Jr. to the Sacramento Kings at the NBA trading deadline. The move leaves the team the option of picking up a player in advance of the playoffs. “We have the flexibility now to choose,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Right now, the business side of it is that it gives us flexibility going down the stretch.” … According to team officials, the 60 media requests Oklahoma City received for the game against Miami is more than any regular season game in Thunder history. … As the second half of the season kicked off for the Oklahoma, secondary ticket market Vivid Seats showed that the Thunder has the highest median ticket price for the second half of the NBA season at $185. The New York Knicks are second at $159. … Despite the teams history, Miami F LeBron James isn’t ready to call Heat vs Thunder a rivalry. “It’s hard to say ‘rivalry’ when you see North Carolina and Duke. “There’s no rivalry in (NBA) basketball today. There’s some very good teams that’s happy to go against guys. You got to come up with another word.”