One expects, in these post-LeBron days, games with the Heat to be titanic defensive struggles, and the first half of this game was exactly that: a low-scoring (44-42), high-friction contest. Miami pulled to within one early in the third quarter, but someone somewhere turned on a switch, and the Thunder pounded down 31 points in those 12 minutes to go up 18. Radio guy Matt Pinto pointed out that the Heat were playing the last game of a six-game road trip, and maybe Miami was tired; but I’m thinking the Thunder finally figured out how to break the turgid pace and play its own game — and, purely incidentally I’m sure, ruin Dwyane Wade’s birthday. (Wade had 18 points by halftime, but was held to four thereafter.) The final was Oklahoma City 99, Miami 74, the 30th win for OKC out of 42.
There was a brief incident of specsmanship in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant (24 points) had already retired for the night; Russell Westbrook stayed in long enough to finish up his second consecutive triple-double (13-10-15). Dion Waiters is still on a hot streak: 6-11 for 18 points. But the man with the Big Plus was +20 Andre Roberson, who bothered Wade as much as Wade could possibly be bothered.
Miami was missing a couple of warm bodies: neither Goran Dragić nor Beno Udrih was available. Still, Tyler Johnson competently filled in for Dragić and Hassan Whiteside was good for a double-double (14 points/11 boards). If there’s a Telltale Statistic, it’s this one: Miami got their 42 percent from the floor on 30 made shots out of 72. The Thunder, at 46 percent, hit 40-88. Sixteen more made shots. This is the benefit of playing at Thunder speed, and tonight Miami wasn’t dialed into it — at least, not in the second half.
Weird schedule next week: at Denver Tuesday, at home against Charlotte on Wednesday, then out to Dallas (Friday), Brooklyn (Sunday afternoon), New York (Tuesday), and Minnesota (again!) on Wednesday. Doable, but lots of potential for trappage.