MIAMI (AP) — Down by 18 points midway through the opening quarter, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder looked well on their way to witnessing a rout.
That’s exactly what happened.
And they enjoyed every moment.
Durant remained sizzling with 33 points, Serge Ibaka added 22 and the Thunder roared back from an abysmal start to embarrass the Miami Heat 112-95 on Wednesday night, erasing an 18-point deficit by outscoring the two-time defending champions by 43 points over a 33-minute span.
The Thunder led by as many as 25, and shot 16 for 27 from 3-point range. Miami was 3 for 19 from beyond the arc.
Durant has now scored at least 30 points in 12 straight games, matching the league’s longest such streak since Tracy McGrady did it in 14 consecutive outings in the 2002-03 season. The Thunder extended their winning streak to nine, inching them closer to Indiana in the race for the league’s best record. And the Oklahoma City bench outscored Miami’s reserves 39-21, with Jeremy Lamb scoring 18 and Derek Fisher going 5 for 5 from 3-point range for his 15 points.
LeBron James scored 34 points for Miami, his 1-on-1 duel with Durant not really amounting to much on a night where the Heat allowed 25 points off turnovers and blew an 18-point lead for just the fourth time since he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh became teammates nearly four years ago.
Bosh scored 18 points and Dwyane Wade added 15 for Miami.
Much of the buzz going into the night was about the MVP race, and how this might be the season that Durant finally catches James for the league’s top individual award.
And head-to-head, they weren’t separated by much, which isn’t uncommon.
But for just the fourth time in 17 meetings between their teams, Durant came out on top.
Ibaka opened the scoring with a jumper, and the Heat answered with an immediate 18-0 run, not even needing 5 minutes to get what appeared to be complete control. With 6:20 left in the opening quarter, Bosh made a pair of free throws to make it 22-4.
That pretty much ended the Heat highlights for the evening.
By the end of the first, the Thunder were within nine. Lamb scored 13 in the second quarter alone, helping Oklahoma City take a 55-50 lead into the break, with the Thunder already having scored 19 points off turnovers.
The third quarter, Durant and the Thunder put it away.
Durant and James went man-to-man at times in that period, both finishing with 12 points in the 12 minutes. The difference was, Durant was getting plenty of help, and James wasn’t getting much.
Fisher connected on a 3-pointer to end the quarter, pushing Oklahoma City’s margin to 16, and the Heat had no answers in the fourth.
NOTES: Fisher made five 3-pointers, total, when the Heat faced the Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals. … Shug McGaughey, who trained last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Orb, was part of the sellout crowd, along with Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. … Oklahoma City shot 14 free throws in the third quarter, the most by any Heat opponent in that period all season. … The Heat fell to 7-12 this season when allowing more than 100 points. They’re 25-1 when holding teams under 100. … The Thunder are 8-0 on the road against Eastern Conference opponents.
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