James leads Heat past Thunder
Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) is fouled by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during tthe first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant dunks in front of Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) dunks during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
OKLAHOMA CITY – LeBron James scored 33 points before leaving in the fourth quarter with a bloody nose and the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 103-81, last night.
James went down with 5:50 remaining after he was struck by Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka on a drive to the basket. James finished the dunk, but was bloodied and left the court with a towel over his face.
Dwyane Wade had 24 points and 10 assists and Chris Bosh added 24 points for Miami, which won its fourth straight and avenged an earlier loss to Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant scored 28 points for Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook, who had missed the previous 27 games after having a surgery on his right knee, started and scored 16 points.
Oklahoma City lost at home for the first time since Jan. 5.
The Thunder overcame an early 18-point deficit on Jan. 29 to roll past the Heat, 112-95, in Miami, and the home fans hoped for a regular-season sweep against the team that beat Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Finals.
The crowd erupted as Westbrook was introduced as a starter. His first minute of action was furious and had the crowd on its feet. His first basket was a two-handed, fast-break dunk 37 seconds into the game, and he got a steal 17 seconds later.
The excitement quickly evaporated. James scored 10 points in the first 3:11 on 5-for-5 shooting and Miami made 13 of its first 14 shots to take a 28-13 lead. James scored 16 points to help the Heat lead 34-17 at the end of the first quarter.
The Heat extended their lead to 19 points in the second quarter before the Thunder rallied behind Westbrook. He scored nine points in the final 1:55 of the first half, including a dunk in the closing seconds, to trim Miami’s lead to 54-47 at the break.
Miami took control early in the third quarter. James scored six points during a 10-0 run that helped the Heat take a 64-49 lead. The Heat extended their lead to 75-53 on a 3-pointer by James with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.
Durant scored seven points in the final 2:46 of the quarter to trim Miami’s edge to 76-65 heading into the fourth quarter.
Miami reasserted itself in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Bosh hit a 3-pointer to bump the Heat’s lead back up to 19 with just under 10 minutes to go.