Thunder may regret missed opportunity
It was a bizarro Sunday as the Miami Heat didn’t really win Game 3 of
the NBA Finals as much as the Thunder lost it, just like Webb Simpson
basically was handed the US Open trophy by Jim Furyk.
goes that way. Sometimes it’s not how you win, but more how the other
guy loses. Because anyone who was flipping channels from the couch, like
those of us who didn’t make the trip to either coast to watch a
Father’s Day feast of sports Sunday, saw Furyk come undone and Oklahoma
City go from Thunder to blunder.
Kevin Durant never tripped over
his shoelaces, but everything else seemed to go wrong in Sunday’s 91-85
loss at Miami. The Heat were bad and the Thunder were worse.
game and the 2-1 series lead were there for the taking. And while
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he had no complaints about the way his
team played, the fans in Oklahoma City sure could have some.
won shooting 38 percent from the field. The Heat missed 19 of 24 shots
outside the paint. You have to work really hard to lose to a team that
misses that much. And the Thunder did.
Oklahoma City’s Big Three of
Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden didn’t do their part and
there wasn’t much support. If any of the three goes off, or if the bench
players do something — maybe out-rebound the smaller Heat? — the
Thunder would have had enough to get past Miami.
looked great early and finished with 29 points and 14 rebounds, but no
one’s sending the game ball to Springfield. Dwyane Wade also cooled off
after a hot start and finished 8 for 22 from the field.
foul trouble again, Durant had 25 points, but he didn’t get to the line
enough (1 of 4) and wasn’t reliable enough (five turnovers). A
fourth-quarter star in the first two games, he shot 2 of 6 in the fourth
quarter Sunday, missed a pair of free throws and had two turnovers.
was 8 of 18 from the field, making him 28 of 68 in the three games. He
finished with 19 points, but was a problem midway through the third
quarter when he missed shots on two possessions in a row, then turned it
over on the next possession. He was replaced by Derek Fisher. Brooks
said he took Westbrook out of the game to settle him down.
Harden came in early as the Thunder got behind in the first quarter,
but he was largely ineffective. The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year finished
2 of 10 from the field in 34 minutes. But he did his real damage when
he lost his way late in the fourth quarter with a pair of turnovers,
both coming with the Thunder down four with less than five minutes to
play. Then he lost his mind.
The Thunder didn’t need to foul in
the closing moments, and with a stop would have provided an opportunity
to tie the game. Instead, Harden fouled James 35 feet from the basket
with 16 seconds left. James made the second of two free throws, and the
Heat iced the game from the line.
The Thunder, the best free-throw
shooting team in the league this season, missed 9 of 24 tries Sunday.
It’s the third game in a row the Thunder have missed seven or more free
Congrats to Durant for not complaining about the
officiating. That’s commendable. However, he may need to consider making
some adjustments. Durant picked up five fouls only three times in the
regular season. He now has had five fouls in each of the past two games
against the Heat. Lay it on the whistle of referee Joey Crawford, but
Durant stepped in late against James for a fifth foul and took himself
out of a chance to win this game for the Thunder.
Crawford didn’t force Serge Ibaka and Fisher to commit silly
third-quarter fouls on Heat 3-point attempts. Up 65-56 with 3:13 in the
third quarter, Ibaka fouled Shane Battier on a 3-pointer. Fisher did the
same to James Jones less than 30 seconds later. That’s six free points.
coach Eric Spoelstra said his team will do whatever it takes to win and
that he knew it was going to be a grind. But he didn’t mention anything
about watching Oklahoma City melt down.
The Thunder are down 2-1.
The good news is it would be hard for Oklahoma City to duplicate its
ineffectiveness. The bad news is, it would be hard for Miami to be just
as bad, too.