Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9), point guard Russell Westbrook (0) and shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha (2) defend during the first half of Game 2 on Thursday.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder finally faced a deficit even Kevin Durant couldn’t rescue them from.
Another slow start put Oklahoma City down 16 almost from the start, and even Durant’s 16-point fourth quarter wasn’t enough to rally the Thunder back in a 100-96 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.
In a postseason filled with thrilling comebacks, Oklahoma City lost its grip on home-court advantage by losing at home for the first time this postseason.
Oklahoma City had already rallied from double-digit deficits four other times during the playoffs, but this time the comeback came up short.
The Heat charged out to an 18-2 lead as Oklahoma City missed 12 of its first 13 shots, and the Thunder never were able to take the lead.
The next three games will be played in Miami, with Game 3 on Sunday night.
Led by Durant, the Thunder nearly were able to wipe out a seven-point deficit after Chris Bosh’s two-handed jam made it 98-91 with 53.8 seconds left.
Durant got a quick layup and then hit a 3-pointer after Thabo Sefolosha picked off an outlet pass from Dwyane Wade. LeBron James then missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 15 seconds left to give Oklahoma City a chance to go for the tie or the win.
After a timeout, Durant went for a quick shot along the baseline that wouldn’t fall. He had 16 points in another sensational fourth quarter but this time it wasn’t enough. Durant had scored 17 points in the fourth while leading the Thunder to a 105-94 win in Game 1.
That formula didn’t work this time.
While the Heat were building their big lead, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was caught on television telling his players they weren’t playing as hard as Miami. It was the second time in as many games that Oklahoma City’s first-half effort came into question.
Durant suggested after Game 1 that the poor play as the Thunder fell behind by 13 in that game had to do with jitters from their first appearances in the finals. Both he and Westbrook pledged that it wouldn’t be a problem in Game 2 but it was.
The Heat rolled to an 18-2 lead as Oklahoma City missed 12 of its first 13 shots, and it could have gotten even more out of hand when Durant and Westbrook both came out of the game late in the first quarter with two fouls apiece. But James Harden kept the Thunder in it by scoring 14 points in his first 9 minutes off the bench, preventing the Heat from extending their lead with the two All-Stars out.
Westbrook, who is dealing with a sore left thumb that had to be wrapped during the team’s morning shootaround, missed his first six shots and his only consistent scoring early on came when he got to the free-throw line. He even uncharacteristically missed twice in six first-half attempts there.
Westbrook ended up missing 16 of his team-high 26 shots to end up with 27 points. Harden scored 21.