The Thunder appeared dead in the water from the jump on Monday night in Miami, looking disengaged and falling behind by as many as 18 points in the first quarter. Oklahoma City started 0-of-10 from the floor, turned the ball over five times, yet a 9-0 run late in the frame helped OKC pull to within six after 12 minutes of basketball.
The Thunder would fall behind by as many as 7 in the second quarter, but Paul George was able to shoot OKC back into it. He hit three shots from beyond the arc in the last six minutes of the half, trimming Miami’s lead to 52-49 at the break — a miracle considering the Thunder hit just 34 percent of its field goals before halftime.
Despite a number of mini-runs in the third quarter, the Heat had an answer for every burst of momentum that came from the Thunder. OKC tied the game 76-76 at the 1:59 mark, but Miami finished the frame on a 5-0 run — taking an 81-76 advantage into the last quarter of play.
Then, right on cue, the Thunder bench arrived to save the day.
Using a lineup of Raymond Felton, Terrance Ferguson, Corey Brewer, Jerami Grant, and Patrick Patterson, OKC charged out of the gate to open the fourth quarter. The bench and Brewer knotted the game at 86-86 with 7:46 to play. Then, with Russell Westbrook back in place of Ferguson, the Thunder opened up a 92-88 lead before George and Carmelo Anthony checked back into the game with 6:40 remaining.
It was all systems go for the Thunder from that point forward, as the team finished on a 23-5 run and absolutely left Miami in the dust. OKC shot 11-of-17 (64.7 percent) in the fourth, all while holding the Heat to 12 points on 20 percent shooting. All told, the Thunder outscored the Heat 39-12 in the final quarter, running away with a 115-93 win.
George led the Thunder in scoring with 27 points on 5-of-13 shooting from long range. Russell Westbrook notched his 25th triple-double of the season (and kept his hopes of a triple-double average alive) with 23 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists. Jerami Grant was again superb off the bench, contributing 17 points in 21 minutes.
The win pushes the Thunder to 47-34 on the season, locking up a playoff berth for the eighth time in 10 seasons. With a win over tanking Memphis in the regular season finale, OKC can assure it will finish no worse than sixth in the Western Conference.
43.2: The Thunder shot 43.2 percent for the game. 34 percent in the first half. 51 percent in the second.
40: OKC went 14-of-35 from long range, good for 40 percent. Miami hit just 5-of-22 from downtown, 22.7 percent.
43-43: Both teams finished with 43 rebounds. That was a wash.
21-21: Both teams had 21 assists. Also a wash.
-26: The Heat abused OKC in the paint, outscoring the Thunder 58-32.
22 & 18: OKC led by as many as 22. Miami led by as many as 18. Wild swings of emotions in this one.
3 & 3: There were three lead changes and three ties.
Bench + Brewer
It didn’t feel like the Thunder could quite get over the hump until the bench and Corey Brewer sparked what would become a monster fourth quarter. Their play to get OKC its first lead of the evening cannot be overlooked.
Grant: 17 pts, 5 reb, 2 blk, 4/6 FG, +24
Felton: 9 pts, 3/7 FG, +15
Patterson: 7 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 2/3 FG, +10
Brewer: 6 pts, 4 reb, 4 stl, 2/5 FG, +15
Ferguson: 3 pts, 1/2 FG, +8
Stat lines for Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony:
Westbrook: 23 pts, 18 reb, 13 ast, 8/21 FG, +12
Was he hunting for rebounds? I mean, yeah. Probably. But he was great down the stretch en route to recording his 25th triple-double of the season. He’ll need to grab 16 rebounds against Memphis in the season finale to reach a triple-double average for the second straight season. He’s had at least 15 in three of the Thunder’s last four games… I wouldn’t count him out.
George: 27 pts, 7/19 FG, 5/13 3P, 8/9 FT, +6
George looked confident shooting the basketball and his five makes from long range were a sight for sore eyes. He didn’t fill out the stat sheet much but he’s hit 40 percent of his attempts from distance over the last two games. That’s a start.
Melo: 11 pts, 5 reb, 4/11 FG, 1/5 3P, +9
Not a tremendous night for Melo but there were a couple perks. For one, he broke his personal record for three-pointers made in a season at 168. Secondly, he’ll be headed to the postseason for the first time since 2014. Very nice.
Steve. Not the best night for Steven Adams. Big Kiwi finished as a -1 in 32 minutes, turning in just 7 points and 3 rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting. Hassan Whiteside got the better end of that match-up, contributing 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Abrines Concussion. Alex Abrines was a +10 in 12 minutes in the first half before leaving with concussion-like symptoms. He did not return.
The Other Guys. Five Heat scored in double-figures: Josh Richardson (18), Whiteside (16), Justice Winslow (12), Tyler Johnson (12), and James Johnson (11).