OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma – A finger roll here, a jump shot there, a monster dunk by Kevin Durant and all of a sudden the Oklahoma City Thunder had their swagger back.
The Thunder had to overcome a lacklustre start Tuesday in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,203 at the Chesapeake Arena.
They missed six of their first seven shots and trailed the Miami Heat 24-13 late in the first quarter of game one of the 2012 NBA finals.
But Durant scored 17 of his 36 points in the final quarter as the Thunder snagged the opener with a 105-94 come-from-behind victory on Tuesday.
Durant helped spark an 11-1 run late in the third quarter with a pair of free throws to allow the Thunder to get within two points, 73-71.
“The only adjustment we made was playing harder,” Durant said during Wednesday’s practice at the downtown arena. “We couldn’t continue to give their guys open shots. We just tried to step it up.”
Coach Scott Brooks said he liked what he saw in the second half from the Thunder who have shot over .500 or better from the field in each of their last four playoff games.
“I like aggressive play,” Brooks said Wednesday. “I like guys attacking. I want Kevin and Russell (Westbrook) to be aggressive.
“If you have the open shot take it, if you got to drive then drive and if you need to get the pass it off then pass it.
“With our team it has always been about making the right play. If you are thinking of scoring and that is all you are thinking about, then you are not doing the right thing for your team.”
Westbrook had a team high 12 points in the third quarter to get the Thunder back into game one. He then switched to being a playmaker in the fourth.
Unlike the Heat, who have an abundance of stars looking to take games over in the fourth quarter, Westbrook says each player on the Thunder has a clear understanding what their roles are down the stretch with the game on the line.
“I know when the fourth quarter comes around my job is to get Kevin the ball.” Westbrook said. “We have a happy medium of me shooting or Kevin shooting and we both stay in the attack mode.”
Miami’s LeBron James says the Heat still have games where the Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh get their wires crossed down the stretch. Just not like they used to.
“This year it happened a handful of times but last year it happened a lot,” said James at Wednesday’s Miami practice.
The Heat expect a better game on Thursday from Wade, who was seven-of-19 shooting for 19 points in the series opener. Wade also had three turnovers.
James said he plans to talk to Wade about being more aggressive.
“Every player needs a little kick now and then no matter how talented they are. He needs to be D-Wade and not defer as much.”
Wade says he plans to attack the basket more in game two.
“Yesterday I hit my first two shots, then I missed my next four,” he said. “I will just try to look for my opportunities, and when my opportunities come, I will take them and be ready for them.
“I want to score more points. I want to give my team an opportunity to win the series. I’ll be looking for my opportunities a lot more than I have of late. So that will be my change.”