• NBA Finals, Game 1

Late charge gives Thunder opening win

ESPN staff
June 13, 2012 « South Africa unchanged for England Test series | Chartbeat test »

The Oklahoma City Thunder drew first blood in the 2012 NBA Finals on Tuesday thanks to a stellar second half performance from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Opening the best-of-seven game series against the Miami Heat in front of their own fans, the Thunder did not lead in the contest until 15 seconds from the end of the third quarter, but from that point on they dominated their opponents as Westbrook and Durant made shot after key shot to clinch Game 1.

Durant scored 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter and, combined with Westbrook [who had 27 points overall], outscored the entire Heat team for the second half.

It looked like being so different as Miami - whose top scorer was LeBron James with 30 points - rushed out into a significant early lead after role players Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers knocked down open shots. But the Thunder have greater depth on the bench and, after Durant and Westbrook had been allowed a slight breather, came on strong in the closing stages.

"Well, those guys, they came out on fire. They were passing the ball well, knocking down shots. We just wanted to continue to keep playing," Durant said. "It's a long game, and every time our coach was just saying, 'Play harder, play harder,' and that's what we did."

The Heat struggled for intensity in the closing stages as Westbrook was able to wriggle free for a couple of crucial open looks, but were not helped by poor shooting nights for both James and Dwyane Wade.

"They just made more plays than us," Wade said. "They got a couple offensive rebounds that kind of hurt us. Got a couple of open shots, and from that point we were kind of playing from behind."

The players will return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the second game of the series on Thursday.

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