In what seemed to be a must-win game for Miami, the Heat escaped Oklahoma City with a 100-96 victory in Game two of the 2012 NBA Finals. After relinquishing a 13-point lead in Game one, history almost repeated itself in Thursday’s match-up after a 17-point lead was cut to two, with under a minute left in regulation. Luckily, a missed foul call on LeBron James allowed the Heat to secure the victory, as Kevin Durant was knocked off balance attempting a baseline jumper that what would have been the game-tying shot. Clearly upset after the miss, KD avoided blaming the referees for the no-call, which could have resulted in a lead changing free throw in the waning moments of the game. “I just missed the shot,” he said during OKC’s post-game press conference.
Although Durant wasn’t awarded the potential three-point play at the end of the game, he did manage to pace his team with 32 points. However, the blame for the loss was sent in the direction of OKC’s other All Star, Russell Westbrook. Behind another near triple-double from the Thunder point guard, Westbrook was criticized for his poor shot selection. The incredibly athletic floor general tallied 27 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists with only two turnovers.
Numbers aside, Russ West shot 10-for-26 from the field, which was slightly less efficient than the Durantula’s 12-for-22. While each All-Star seemed to hit a similar number of shots throughout their Thursday contest, the number of attempts was the most talked about subject during the postgame coverage. Within the criticism of Durant’s “lack of touches,” was the scorching hot play of James Harden. The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year shot 7 for 11 from the field en route to a 21 point effort. After only notching 22 minutes and five points in Game one, “The Beard” was back to normalcy with 35 very productive minutes for Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, the very valiant effort of the Western Conference Champions couldn’t outlast a rejuvenated Miami franchise.
The South Beach trio led the way in what began as a blowout, early on. LeBron James notched 32 points and 8 rebounds, while shooting a flawless 12-for-12 from the free throw line. Not to be outdone, Dwyane Wade was back to normal with a 24 point, 6 rebound & 5 assist showing as Miami evened the series. However, the most important performance of the night came with Chris Bosh’s return to the starting lineup. In his first game since the Eastern Semi-finals, CB4 came through with a 16 point, 15 rebound performance that definitely sparked his team.
Although Miami barely escaped Chesapeake Energy Arena with a win, it was an accomplishment that no other team has achieved in this year’s NBA Playoffs. Prior to Thursday’s match-up, OKC stood a perfect 9-0 at home. The Heat also snapped their four-game NBA Finals losing streak, which dates back to last year’s bout with Dallas. A win in Oklahoma City was the only way South Beach could secure a championship in their city. With the series all knotted up, it’s now up to the Western Conference Champions to steal a game in American Airlines Arena. After surrendering at least one home game to both Indiana and Boston, Miami will be looking to break that trend in hopes of hoisting the 2012 Championship Trophy by Game five.
Steve Rivers has contributed to The Source, ESPN Rise and a host of other online publications. Follow him on Twitter: @TheKidSkoob.