Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The featured matchup for the NBA’s annual Christmas day lineup of games was a rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat. By the time the final buzzer sounded, one thing was clear…the Thunder still couldn’t beat the Heat.
Miami’s LeBron James put on a dazzling display scoring 29 points, dishing out nine assists, and grabbing eight rebounds while teammate Dwyane Wade scored 21 to help the Heat survive a wild finish on top of the Thunder, 103-97.
Mario Chalmers scored a season-high 20 for the Heat, who were 19 for 19 from the foul line, the second-best effort in franchise history behind only a 30-for-30 game in Boston on March 24, 1993. Chris Bosh added 16 for Miami, which has beaten the Thunder five straight times going back to last June’s title series.
Durant scored 33 points and Westbrook added 21 for Oklahoma City, but both Thunder stars missed potential game-tying 3-point attempts in the final seconds.
It didn’t help the Thunder they weren’t able to stop Chris Bosh near the end of the game as well.
It’s the first losing streak of the season for the Thunder, who had been 4-0 after losses. Ibaka and Kevin Martin each scored 15 for Oklahoma City.
The game had a little of everything — a fast start by the reigning champions, a one-handed dunk by James on an offensive rebound that will be added to his copious highlight reel, a scrum after a hard foul that led to double-technicals on Wade and Ibaka early in the fourth, an easy rally by the Thunder from an early double-digit deficit, and even workout partners in Durant and James barking back and forth in the final minutes.
Such was the intensity that James slumped over the scorer’s table with 1:08 left, exhausted.
“I’m tired as hell right now,” James said — and that was more than an hour after the game ended.
Oklahoma City ran into the same problems it did in the Finals earlier this year against the Heat. The Thunder were unable to put up an answer for LeBron and every time the Heat needed a big shot, someone was wide open ready to drain it.
James’ 29 points continued a streak of 30 straight regular-season game scoring at least 20 points for the Heat. If you’re looking for a player to bet on during a Christmas Day game, just take a look at Miami’s James and Wade.
James has won six straight games on Christmas, while Wade is 7-1 overall on the holiday.
James also moved past Bernard King for 39th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in front of a record home crowd of 20,300 at the AmericanAirlines Arena.