Heat vs. Thunder Score: Quarter by Quarter Breakdown of OKC'S Game 3 Loss
The Miami Heat trumped the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3 to take a one-game advantage into a pivotal Game 4 on Tuesday.
Stifling defense, another epic LeBron James performance and costly mistakes by the Thunder were all contributing factors in Miami's 91-85 victory.
To completely understand Miami's victory Sunday night, we need to take a look at each quarter on an individual basis.
Let's take a look.
*Numbers in parentheses are the points scored in the quarter.
First Quarter: Miami 26, OKC 20
Miami's "Big Three" came to play from Sunday night's opening tip, and it showed throughout the first period.
James scored 10 points and hauled in five boards. Dwyane Wade scored four points and dished out four assists and Chis Bosh added six points of his own.
Who was more important for Miami in the first quarter?
The Heat used these efforts to jump out to a 10-4 lead, and they never looked back. Miami held the lead for the rest of the first quarter and set the tone for the remainder of Sunday night's contest.
Oklahoma City didn't have an answer. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 12 first-quarter points and Kendrick Perkins managed to add four.
But after an encouraging opening two minutes, the Thunder went scoreless for the next three minutes of the contest. They missed five shots, turned it over once and looked eerily similar to Game 2's first-quarter travesty.
This frame could have been worse, but Oklahoma City failed to set the tone in front of a hostile Miami crowd.
Second Quarter: Miami 47 (21), OKC 46 (26)
Miami was able to use the paint to their advantage in the first frame of Game 3. That story changed in the second stanza.
The Thunder cut Miami's points in the paint in half (from 20 to 10) and gained a foothold in this game because of it. Perkins and Serge Ibaka were able to shut down the area around the rim, and Miami's big men struggled to gain any traction.
Holding Miami's interior scoring to a minimum allowed the Thunder's dynamic duo to operate. Westbrook and Durant scored 14 combined points in the second quarter, bringing their combined total to 26 in the first half.
The Thunder could have gone away, but Scott Brooks' squad made the necessary adjustments. This set the tone for the second half and gave Oklahoma City a blueprint to work from.
Third Quarter: Miami 69 (22), OKC 67 (21)
Miami is lucky the margin was this close after their third-quarter performance.
Wade put home two free throws following a Thabo Sefolosha foul at the 11:10 mark. After that, the Thunder enjoyed a torrid 18-5 run.
Stingy defense and Durant's scoring prowess were responsible for the run.
Whose run was more impressive?
Miami missed shots, but Oklahoma City made sure everything was contested and nothing came easy. Durant took the ball to the rack regularly, got to the free-throw line and used the window to bank home two jumpers and a few layups.
The Thunder role players also got involved. Derek Fisher knocked down a trey on James Harden's fourth assist, and he drew a shooting foul on Mario Chalmers.
The four-point play gave the Thunder a 10-point lead, but the fun stopped there. Durant picked up his fourth foul at 5:41 and went to the bench, and Westbook followed suit shortly after.
Miami took complete advantage of the duo's benching.
With four minutes left in the quarter, James knocked down a floater. This set up a 15-3 Miami run to close the quarter.
A dominant run from each side set up this game's exciting concluding quarter.
Fourth Quarter: Miami 91 (22), OKC 85 (18)
The final quarter was a struggle for Oklahoma City despite nine Miami turnovers.
James was assigned to Durant defensively, and he continued his steady scoring on the offensive end. Miami's Big Three was able to control the tempo, contribute consistently and dictate the game's flow.
But that doesn't mean the Thunder went away.
Oklahoma City took a 77-76 lead with 7:32 remaining, but they couldn't find a real rhythm. Both teams traded stops for the next few minutes and the Thunder's momentum was shot.
Finally, the lead extended to 84-77 in Miami's favor. Oklahoma City's last gasp cut the lead to one, but Bosh's free throws and a Wade bucket made sure the Heat would not relinquish it.
Durant couldn't knock down an awkward look, Westbrook missed a three-point heave and James closed the game out with a free throw at the end.
Miami's six-point victory was hard-earned.
James and Wade each had near triple-double performances, Bosh added a double-double and the Thunder didn't have an answer.
They missed 14 three-point attempts, nine free throws and got a 2-of-10 performance from super-sub Harden.
All in all, the Thunder need to go back to the drawing board. This was a lackluster performance for an incredibly high-powered offense, and their defensive effort also left something to be desired.
If they want to even this series, Brooks must find a way to rally his squad. A defense-first attitude is the only way to do it.
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