OKC draw first blood over Heat in finals

23:25, Jun 13 2012
NBA Finals
LeBron James, the NBA regular season MVP, is marked by the regular season scoring champ Kevin Durant.
NBA Finals
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook takes a shot during the first half of game one of the NBA finals.
NBA Finals
Kendrick Perkins blocks the shot of the Heat's Udonis Haslem in game one.
NBA Finals
Russell Westbrook of the Thunder and Miami's Dwyane Wade battle for posession in game one.
NBA Finals
LeBron James finishes a first half dunk during game one.
NBA Finals
Dwyane Wade attempts to block the shot of Russell Westbrook in game one.
NBA Finals
Serge Ibaka dunks over Shane Battier in game one.
NBA Finals
Oklahoma City cheerleaders entertain the crowd in game one.
NBA Finals
Kevin Durant shows who's number one after the Thunder took game one of the NBA finals.
Kevin Durant
Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant pleads with the referee after a call.
Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade gets up-close with photographers after falling out of bounds.
Serge Ibaka
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka blocks the dunk attempt by LeBron James.
Oklahoma City Thunder fan
An Oklahoma City Thunder fan before tip-off.
LeBron James
LeBron James drives to the hoop against Kevin Durant during Game 2.
Chris Bosh
Miami's Chris Bosh dunks the ball as Oklahoma City's Derek Fisher and James Harden hit the floor.
Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade had 24 points in the Heat's 100-96 Game 2 win.
NBA Finals
Chris Bosh dunks the ball as Kevin Durant attempts the block during game three in Miami.
NBA Finals
Kevin Durant goes up for the dunk as LeBron James looks on.
NBA Finals
LeBron James looks to cut through the defence of Oklahoma's Kevin Durant and James Harden.
NBA Finals
Dwyane Wade goes for a reverse lay-up during game three.
NBA Finals
Dwyane Wade throws down a spectacular dunk during game three in Miami.
NBA Finals
Oklahoma's Serge Ibaka reacts to a time violation in game three.
American Airlines Arena
The Miami Heat's home floor at the American Airlines Arena before Game 4.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh dives for a loose ball in Game 4.
Erik Spoelstra
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra during the second quarter.
Norris Cole
Back-up point guard Norris Cole protects the ball as he drives down the lane.
Serge Ibaka and Chris Bosh
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka tumbles over Chris Bosh chasing a loose ball.
James Harden
Oklahoma City's James Harden glides to the basket for a left-handed lay-in.
Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City dunks in front of LeBron James and James Jones.
LeBron James
LeBron James of the Miami Heat bumps off Russell Westbrook.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat small forward LeBron James stands before the start of Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, centre, dunks the ball as Miami Heat's LeBron James, lower right, and Shane Battier look on in the first half during Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat's LeBron James shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder's Kendrick Perkins defends in Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat's LeBron James leaps to shoot as Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka, centre, defends during Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat's LeBron James drives to the net on Oklahoma City Thunder's Kendrick Perkins during the second quarter of Game 5.
Chris Bosh
Miami Heat's Chris Bosh, left, goes to the floor after he missed a shot under pressure from Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka, right, during Game 5.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade embrace after the clock hits zeros.
LeBron James
LeBron James celebrates his first NBA championship.
Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh roars at the crowd as confetti falls in Miami.
Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh
Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh celebrate the Heat's NBA title.

Kevin Durant won the opening round of his highly anticipated duel with LeBron James, scoring 36 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 105-94 victory over the Miami Heat in the opening game of the NBA Finals today.

The NBA scoring champion hit 12-of-20 shots and added eight rebounds to help the Western Conference champions outscore the Heat by 18 points in the second half to draw first blood in the best-of-seven series.

"You know, this is a tough series," said Durant, whose 17 fourth-quarter points slammed the door shut on Miami.

"This level of basketball is the hardest we play, and we just want to take it slow and take it a possession at a time.

"Guys got to just continue to believe in themselves. If we do that as a group, we'll be all right. It took us a couple minutes to get the nervousness out of us."

James, a three-time MVP, scored 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting, while adding nine rebounds, but it was Durant who triggered the Thunder's turnaround.

"They didn't make many mistakes in the fourth quarter," James said of the Thunder's 31-21 advantage in the final period. "I don't think we made many mistakes in the fourth quarter, it's just they made more plays, especially offensively.

"They made more shots. Russell made some big-time shots, KD (Durant) made some big-time shots. So I think that's what it's about."

Durant's tussle with James is widely regarded as a barometer for determining the league's best player, with both also seeking a first championship.

Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half, while adding eight rebounds and 11 assists overall. The only other player scoring in double figures for Oklahoma City was forward Serge Ibaka, who netted 10.

"He's a terrific player. We want him to score," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Westbrook. "When he gets to those spots that he can knock those shots down, those are great shots for him.

"Defensively he was solid. When you guard (Dwyane) Wade or LeBron, you have to really exert a lot of effort defensively, and he did that. And he also had enough to finish around the basket."

Miami led by as many as 13 in the opening half but fell apart in the third quarter, and when Westbrook made a three-point play late in the closing seconds to give the Thunder their first lead at 74-73, the Chesapeake Energy Arena erupted.

"They got out in transition and that's their bread and butter, especially here at home," said Heat forward Shane Battier, who scored 17 points but only four in the second half.

"They run so well. For a while we contained them. Second half we made too many careless turnovers."

Game Two is also in Oklahoma City on Friday (NZ time) before the series shifts to Miami for the next two contests.

"This one is behind us now," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "About halfway through the fourth quarter, we were thinking we were putting ourselves in a position to win.

"And then they just went away. That's what they do, they keep on coming. They're relentless. They beat us at their game and beat us in a game that's very similar to us when we're playing well."

Wade conceded the Thunder "did a great job of turning up defensive pressure" in the second half.

"They just made more plays than us," said Wade, an eight-time All-Star who had 19 points. "They got a couple offensive rebounds that kind of hurt us. They got a couple open shots.

"And then from that point, we was kind of playing behind."

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Reuters