Thursday, January 18, 2018

Miami Heat beats Oklahoma City Thunder in NBA Finals Game 3

MIAMI — Ten-year-old Zaire Wade had some surprising news for his dad as Sunday dawned and Game 3 loomed.

"He told me this wasn't Father's Day," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said before Game 3 of the NBA Finals tipped off. "He said this was 'Son's Day,' and for 'Son's Day' we had to win."

Wade smiled, then shrugged. "Like I wasn't already going to try to do that," the amused father of two boys said.

Wade overcame early struggles and LeBron James had 29 points and 14 rebounds as Miami took a 2-1 lead in the series with a 91-85 victory over the Thunder.

Wade had 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Miami trailed by 10 in the third, but James' 3-pointer sent the Heat to the fourth quarter with the lead.

Miami hit 31 of 35 free throws; the Thunder hit 15-of-24.

"Thirty-five free throws … a good number for us,'' James said.

"This is competition at its highest and we kept on mentioning that in the fourth quarter,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That's what this is about.''

Kevin Durant had 25 points for the Thunder but picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter and went to the bench when his team seemed to have control of the game. Russell Westbrook finished with 19 points.

"This is not over," Durant said. "It's not over."

James reached his 20 points for the 20th time this postseason, two shy of Wade's franchise record set in 2006.

"It's all about chemistry," James said. "We understand where we like to get the ball, what we like to do in close situations, and it's good to see us execute down the stretch. But more importantly it was great to see we were able to get stops. That's where the game is won and we did that."

Chris Bosh had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, which can win a second title by winning the next two at home. Since the NBA went to the 2-3-2 Finals format in 1985, the home team has won the middle three games only twice, the Pistons against the Lakers in 2004 and the Heat against the Mavericks in 2006.

The Thunder took its last lead at 77-76 on James Harden's basket with 7:32 left. James answered with two free throws about 20 seconds later, and the teams would trade turnovers and stops over the next couple of tense minutes.

Wade then converted a three-point play, and another minute went by before James powered to the basket, Durant trying to draw a charge but picking up his fifth foul. James made the free throw for an 84-77 advantage with 3:47 to play.

After another basket by James, the Thunder had one last burst, a 6-0 run. Bosh made a pair of free throws, Durant missed badly on a wild shot and the Thunder missed another chance when Westbrook was off on a 3-pointer.

James hit a free throw for a four-point lead with 16 seconds to go and Wade added two.

"It's very hard," James said. "Both teams are very active defensively and both teams make it hard on one another in the half court so when you get stops you try to get early offense, it always helps and we were able to do that a little bit."

The Heat led 26-20 after the first quarter, James, Wade and Bosh combining for Miami's first 18 points.

James and Wade had some dazzling drives in the second quarter and Shane Battier got free for a pair of 3-pointers.

Battier had made at least four 3-pointers in three straight games. The last player to make four in four consecutive postseason games was Orlando's Dennis Scott in 1995.

Oklahoma City stayed in it in the second quarter and went on a 14-2 run early in the third. Oklahoma City led 60-51 with 6:55 left in the quarter, but shortly after that Durant drew his fourth foul on Wade's baseline drive and had to go to the bench. The Thunder pushed the lead to 10, but the Heat got back in it when Battier and then James Jones made all six free throws after being fouled on 3-pointers.

The Thunder had been 7-0 in these playoffs when leading by double digits in the second half.

Westbrook went out with five minutes left and stayed out for the remainder of the quarter, leaving the Thunder without its two best players.

Westbrook, on why he was out: "Coach's decision. Got to live with it."

Durant, on why he was out: "That's coach's call. … Me going out of the game because of fouls is kind of tough."

So then the coach explained his thinking.

"You've got to rest the guys sooner or later," Scott Brooks said.

"We've just got to do a better job," Durant said. "I know I have to do a way better job. We've just got to own up to it and get better."

OKLAHOMA CITY (85): Durant 11-19 2-4 25, Ibaka 2-5 1-2 5, Perkins 3-5 4-6 10, Westbrook 8-18 2-2 19, Sefolosha 3-8 0-0 6, Harden 2-10 5-7 9, Fisher 3-8 1-1 9, Collison 1-3 0-2 2, Cook 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 33-77 15-24 85.

MIAMI (91): James 11-23 6-8 29, Battier 2-2 3-3 9, Bosh 3-12 4-4 10, Chalmers 1-8 0-0 2, Wade 8-22 9-11 25, Miller 1-2 2-2 4, Cole 0-2 0-0 0, Haslem 1-1 4-4 6, Jones 1-2 3-3 6. Totals 28-74 31-35 91.

Oklahoma City 20 26 21 18— 85

Miami 26 21 22 22— 91

3-Point GoalsOklahoma City 4-18 (Fisher 2-3, Westbrook 1-4, Durant 1-4, Cook 0-1, Sefolosha 0-2, Harden 0-4), Miami 4-13 (Battier 2-2, Jones 1-2, James 1-4, Cole 0-1, Miller 0-1, Chalmers 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsOklahoma City 52 (Perkins 12), Miami 51 (James 14). AssistsOklahoma City 11 (Harden 6), Miami 13 (Wade 7). Total FoulsOklahoma City 25, Miami 19. TechnicalsOklahoma City Coach Brooks. A20,003 (19,600).


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