Russell Westbrook
Thunder-Heat Preview
Russell Westbrook

Thunder-Heat Preview

Published Dec. 2, 2015 4:38 p.m. ET

It seems clear the Oklahoma City Thunder need offensive contributions from others besides Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to be successful.

It's the defensive end where the Miami Heat need to keep having everyone help.

The league's No. 2 scoring offense takes on the No. 2 scoring defense as the Thunder visit the Heat on Thursday night.

"We're not gonna shut Kevin Durant down, you're not gonna shut Russell Westbrook down, only thing we can hope for is they have bad shooting nights," Dwayne Wade said. "... It's our job to make sure that we make it as tough as possible, play our defensive concepts and don't give them too many easy baskets and play the way we play."


Both teams have had two days off following disappointing losses.

Oklahoma City (11-7) overcame a 16-point deficit in Atlanta to take a four-point lead on Westbrook's back-to-back baskets with 2 1/2 minutes left, but he was 0 for 2 with a turnover down the stretch in a 106-100 loss. The Thunder, who average 108.9 points, fell to 0-5 when failing to top 100.

Westbrook scored half of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out seven assists, but Oklahoma City had a four-game winning streak snapped. Durant had 25 points, including the Thunder's only four in the final two minutes, but felt he "could've been a lot better."

Oklahoma City's reserves certainly could have been, matching a season low with 19 points on 7-of-31 shooting. The Thunder are 11-1 when their bench scores at least 30 and 0-6 when they don't.

Dion Waiters averaged 13.5 points in the previous 11 games as Oklahoma City went 8-3, but he was 0 of 7 from the field and had one point Monday. Fellow reserve Anthony Morrow hit three 3-pointers but missed his other nine shots. The Thunder are 6-0 when Morrow hits at least 40.0 percent from the field.

"Every game is different and every day is different," Morrow told the team's official website. "It's about keeping that same steady work ethic and mentality."

Those areas have pleased first-year coach Billy Donovan.

"These guys are really committed to the game," he said after Tuesday's practice in Miami. "They're committed to their personal development. They get in the gym and they work."

Heat veteran Chris Bosh sounds similarly pleased despite Monday's 105-95 home loss to Boston. It was the third defeat in 10 games for Miami (10-6), which leads the Southeast Division after failing to make the playoffs last season.

"Before the season started, if you would've told me your team would be 10-6 in the first 16, I'm gonna take that," said Bosh, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds Monday playing through an illness. "... We're better than I thought we would be. That's one thing that we understand. We do wanna win and can win ball games, but we're an inexperienced group as far as together is concerned."

The Heat are giving up 96.3 points per game and are 9-1 when holding opponents under that mark.

Wade had a season-high 30 points Monday but also committed six turnovers. He was held to a combined 30 points in two meetings with the Thunder last season as the Heat lost both despite Westbrook totaling 31 points and Durant scoring 19 in the only one he played.


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