Heat Hold on for Another Win in Game 4
Although the Thunder got off to an incredible start in game 4, they couldn’t hold on for the win. Miami took game 4 with a final score of 104-98.
Russell Westbrook was a huge part of the reason OKC started off so hot and didn’t lose by double digits. From last night’s performance, it appears as though all the flack Russ has been receiving about his wild play and bad decisions gave him the boost he needed to shake the haters off.
Besides Westbrook’s strong start (making his first four shots), the Thunder also got help from Nick Collison, who has been largely absent from the last two games. Big plays and shots gave the Thunder a 33-16 lead. But rookie Norris Cole hit a three to bring the lead down to 14, giving the Heat the momentum that had been lacking.
Cole swished another three to start the second quarter, and then enter James Jones. This supporting cast of the Heat assisted Miami on their 16-0 run before Westbrook got back in the action and put a stop to it.
After being up by as much as 17 points, though, the Thunder squeaked into halftime with a 49-46 lead. At this point, Westbrook led the Thunder with 18 points.
The electric Russell Westbrook knew he needed to take the lead and went off in the fourth. He was unstoppable. He scored 13 in a row, eliminating the Heat’s 7-point lead all by himself. Soon after that, LeBron was taken out of the game with severe leg cramps. The Thunder took advantage of his stage exit and reclaimed the lead off a perimeter jumper from Durant, making the score 94-92. Not as comfortable a lead as 17 points, but a lead nonetheless.
Then James came back in and hit a three to break the tie at 94 points. That was a short scene for the star player, though, as he went back to the bench for good with 55 seconds remaining. Mario Chalmers pushed the lead to 5 with a layup. Chalmers was a beast in game 4. Chalmers didn’t like being guarded by Durant so KD could get some rest. He set out to prove something in game 4. Mission accomplished.
With the 5-point lead, Westbrook (once again) came back with a shot to cut the lead back to 3—one possession. Wade then airballed, and Harden and Udonis Haslem got tangled up with just 17 seconds left. Jump ball. The Heat got the tip, but Westbrook didn’t know they only had five seconds to shoot, so he immediately fouled Chalmers, who made the freethrows and put away the game.
Was that a mistake by Westbrook? You betcha. But did he singlehandedly lose the game for the Thunder? Absolutely not. Westbrook can hardly be blamed for the loss after such a stellar performance—43 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists. If you want to blame the loss on anything, blame it on poor three-point shooting (3-16 from behind the arc), James Harden’s terrible Finals play, and losing the battle of the boards.
We’ve heard too many times to count by now that no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals, but if OKC can out-rebound the Heat, make their threes (or at least prevent the Heat from making theirs), and get some points outta Harden, they’ve got more than a fighting chance.
You can bet that the Thunder will be playing like it’s their last game of the season Thursday night—because it very well could be.