One of the advantage of being LeBron James, I imagine, is that he can do some very un-LeBron-like things — tonight, eight turnovers and 2-5 from the foul line, before exiting with a flesh wound to the face — and still look very much like LeBron. At the time, James had contributed 33 points to the cause, and Miami was up 16. Things would not get better for the Thunder in his absence, however; despite the return of Russell Westbrook in sort-of-limited minutes, and despite 28 points from Kevin Durant, the Heat prevailed and then some, 103-81.
And you could make a case that the other two members of the Heat’s Big Three came up bigger than LeBron, with Dwyane Wade close to a triple-double (24 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds) and Chris Bosh knocking down 24, including 11-12 on free throws. The Heat shot a more-than-creditable 54 percent for the night, and — get this — every Miami starter had at least two steals. (James had four.) Against this onslaught, the Thunder might have been lucky to shoot a miserable 37 percent.
What saved the Thunder in the first game of the series, in Miami, was the long ball: 16 treys made. Tonight, OKC put up 20 and made only two. Percentage-wise, the best shooter in home white was Perry Jones III, who went 3-5 including one of those treys. Westbrook showed signs of his old self, with 16 points on an uneconomical 4-12 line, plus a technical for arguing a call. One could argue, I suppose, that Kendrick Perkins played twice as much tonight as in that first clash, but the difference between eight minutes and four minutes is not all that pronounced.
Sunday noon, the Clippers, minus Byron Mullens (traded to Philadelphia for a draft pick) and Antawn Jamison (traded to Atlanta for two balls and a box of Kleenex), will be here to test the Thunder’s mettle. Let’s hope it’s not altogether rusty.