Facing the Miami Heat in the final night of a three-game home stand, it was hard for high scoring Thunder forward Kevin Durant to find any negatives in Oklahoma City’s 99-74 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday.
“I think we are doing a good job of moving the ball,” Durant said. “Our defense has picked back up. We are doing a great job of covering up for each other on the defensive end and we’re rebounding the ball.”
Durant scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Thunder while Russell Westbrook racked up back-to-back triple doubles with 13 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds. Serge Ibaka added 19 points and seven boards while Dion Waiters came off the bench to score 18 as the Thunder improved to 30-12.
Dwyane Wade, a game-time decision for Heat, ended up leading them in scoring with 22 points on nine of 15 shooting. Tyler Johnson scored 16 and Hassan Whiteside posted 14 and 11 rebounds at the Heat dropped to 23-18.
“I feel like nowadays, I put up a double-double, people say I had a bad game,” Whiteside said. “I didn’t really think I’m having a bad season.”
According to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, it was the team’s play in the third quarter, when they were outscored 31-16, that cost them any chance of taking home a win.
“It was really the same type of thing. Being able to show stability in the midst of a storm,” Spoelstra said.
“They made some big shots. Then our offensive execution that we showed in the first half wasn’t there. They stepped up their pressure, we turned the ball over and didn’t get the type of shots we wanted.”
The Thunder took control of the game early. Whether it was layups, lobs or fastbreaks, thet attacked the rim and the Heat’s defense.
Dwyane Wade, who sat out Friday against Denver with shoulder soreness, led the Heat with 22 points on his 34th birthday. Hassan Whiteside added 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for the Heat.
It was the fewest points scored by the Heat this season and the fewest allowed by the Thunder.
“They did a good job defensively, not allowing us to have everything we wanted,” Wade said. “They changed up their schemes a little bit. They’re a very long, athletic team. They’re not easy to score on when they’re locked in.”
Oklahoma City led 44-42 at halftime behind 15 points and nine rebounds from Durant. Wade scored 18 points in the first half, the most he’s scored in the first half of a game this season.
Oklahoma City led 49-48 in the second half before going on an 8-0 run that included three baskets by Andre Roberson. After Miami scored, Durant, Ibaka and Westbrook hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 66-50, and the Thunder remained in control from there.
“We got stops, coach called some good plays and we made three threes in a row to bust it open,” Durant said. “That’s like a backbreaker.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was disappointed in the way his team came out of the break.
“The first six or seven minutes of that third quarter were clearly not at the level that was needed to grind out and make it a possession game going down the stretch,” he said.