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February 15, 2013

Once again, Thunder can't take the Heat

Durant scores 40 in losing cause

OKLAHOMA CITY — It had all the makings of a classic confrontation. Miami and Oklahoma City, the finalist in last year’s NBA Championship, were meeting on Valentine’s Day before the All-Star break. It was a dream matchup.

For three quarters, it was anything but as the Heat looked like they were going to cruise to a win. However, the Thunder battled back in the fourth quarter to make a game of it. It just wasn’t enough, though, as the Heat won 110-100 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Miami swept the season series and has now won six straight games against the Thunder, dating to the NBA Finals.

“Not disappointed,” Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook said. “But mostly surprised. I knew we would come out ready to play.”

But the Thunder didn’t. It wasn’t until after being dominated for three quarters that they struck back in the fourth behind Kevin Durant. He found his shooting stroke and helped Oklahoma City close to 11 with 4:00 remaining. It began to look like the game fans had expected.

However, each time Oklahoma City got close, LeBron James had an answer, including making six straight points to close the game. He showed why he’s the standard level Durant is still trying to reach.

“He’s a great player,” Durant said of James. “He’s done it all. He’s got an MVP, got a championship, I played with him on the gold-medal team. He’s playing great. Once you gain confidence, once you’re feeling good, those shots he was making tonight come from the last week he’s had. You can’t do nothing about it. You have to sit and take it.”

James led the charge for Miami (36-15) with 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. But his streak of consecutive 30-point games and shooting 60 percent from the field ended at six. James missed his final shot from 3-point range to finish 14 of 24 from the floor for 58 percent.

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