Foiled in Florida, again

So we have Thunder and Heat, an odd combination for December from the meteorological standpoint, and something of a mismatch basketballwise, Miami having regained much of its mojo with Dwyane Wade back up to speed, and Oklahoma City still trying to put it all together. It was still pretty close, with the Heat leading by 15 after three quarters, the Thunder making up the difference in six or seven minutes, and Miami eventually prevailing, 105-99.

Besides, how do you defend against Wade? “Seal him in the locker room” seems to be the only thing that might actually work. We’re talking 38 points, and it’s only that few because he unaccountably managed to miss five free throws. Add to that double-doubles on both sides of the frontcourt — both Shawn Marion and Udonis Haslem had 15 points each and 26 rebounds between them — and you wonder why the windblown Thunder bothered to show up.

The answer, of course, is that they’re not quite ready to roll over and die. Russell Westbrook had never had a 20-point game in the pros, and he still hasn’t; but tonight he had a 30-point game, plus two steals and three assists and seven boards. (Once again, Earl Watson did the assist part of the point-guard game, serving up 12 dimes while scoring three points.) The Kevin Durant Show started out slow but peaked in the fourth quarter, right where you’d want it to: he finished with 18 points. Jeff Green pulled down nine boards and scored 21. And the question of who’s in the middle still hasn’t been resolved: Chris Wilcox started, but Nick Collison did most of the dirty work, putting in 27 minutes and scoring 14. Johan Petro was seen, albeit briefly.

Still, a 1-3 road trip is probably better than this club had any right to expect, and while “Tastes great / Sucks less” isn’t much of a cry for a rally, it’s a start.

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