Derek Fisher’s four-point play with 4:33 left in the third quarter capped an 18-5 run by the Thunder, who rendered most of the 20,003 people in the building silent during that stretch. Oklahoma City led 64-54, the scoreboard showing those numbers just 68 seconds after Durant went to the bench with four fouls and a mere 28 seconds after Fisher checked in to give Westbrook a rest.
So the best two Oklahoma City players were out of the game.
If the Heat were going to turn things around, it had to be in that moment. This is where that aforementioned help enters the picture. Battier and James Jones scored six Miami points 22 seconds apart _ after both got fouled trying 3-pointers, on a night where the Heat could barely make anything from outside.
James got a 3-pointer to fall late in the third, putting Miami on top 69-67. There were two lead changes in the fourth, but in the end, the Heat had enough. And afterward, Durant and Westbrook got the questions about their absences in the third quarter.
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,” Brooks said.
There was so much for the Thunder to lament when this one was over. Durant was in foul trouble, again _ a rarity for him. The Thunder were 15 for 24 from the foul line, after leading the league in that department during the regular season. Oklahoma City gave Miami eight points off turnovers in the fourth quarter _ plus scored only 10 points off Miami’s nine turnovers in that period.
And it all came in a game where Miami shot 10 for 30 in the second half _ though the Heat were 22 for 24 from the foul line after halftime.
“We could have been better, of course,” Durant said.
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