Miami Heat overcame a 10-point third quarter deficit to beat Oklahoma City Thunder 91-85 in a pulsating Game 3 of the NBA Finals at the American Airlines Arena here Sunday night. The narrow win puts the Heat 2-1 ahead in the series.
Star forward LeBron James was again in imperious form for Miami as he led the way with 29 points and 14 rebounds with Dwayne Wade also turning in a fine performance with 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Kevin Durant finished with 25 points for The Thunder but was fouled out for the second consecutive game and his absence for a period in the third quarter seemed to swing the momentum in favour of the Heat. Even though the 23 year-old Durant returned in the fourth quarter, he was unable to make an impact and could only contribute four points.
Unlike the opening two games, The Thunder got off to a bright start but were still kept in check by the Heat’s famed trio of James, Wade and Chris Bosh. James, still searching for his first NBA championship crown, grabbed 10 points for the home side in the first quarter as The Thunder struggled to cope with the Heat’s fluent offensive play.
However, Oklahoma fought back through the course of the first half as a late three-pointer from Russell Westbrook, who netted a game total of 19 points, cut Miami’s lead to 47-46 heading into the break.
The Thunder began to up the tempo as the second half got underway but the potential turning point of the game arrived with over five minutes to go in the third quarter when Durant picked up his fourth foul which saw him make way for Harden. At the time of the incident, The Thunder were leading 60-54 and Miami made the most of Durant’s absence to take a 69-67 lead into the fourth.
With 16 seconds left in the game and the score 89-85 to Miami, Oklahoma’s Thabo Sefolosha turned the ball over following a bad inbounds pass which prompted The Thunder to foul Wade who made no mistake with his two free throws.
Miami have home court advantage for the next two games and will look to extend their series lead when Game 4 tips off Tuesday.