Thursday, March 17, 2011
James, Heat Thunder-struck by Durant
By ESPN Stats & Info
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up their fifth straight win by defeating the Miami Heat.
Kevin Durant scored 29 points, earning his first victory in seven tries against LeBron James.
Based off of video tracking, Durant did much of his damage against James. Durant had struggled when guarded by James previously, shooting only 36.4 percent from the floor against him in his career entering the night.
Wednesday was a different story as Durant was 10-of-15 from the field when guarded by James, scoring 21 of his points against him.
This was one of those rare games though, where it wasn't just Durant's scoring that led the Thunder to victory, but rather his overall playmaking abilities.
Durant tied a season-high with six assists, and the Thunder improved to 8-1 this season when he collects at least five.
In their six previous meetings, Durant averaged only 1.5 assists per game compared to 7.3 for James.
James tied a season-low with just three assists. Miami is now just 6-5 this season when he dishes out four or fewer assists.
The Heat struggled badly in the second half, shooting 29.4 percent from the field, their worst second-half performance as a team this season.
The Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were at the center of the struggles, missing 20 of their combined 24 field goal attempts after halftime.
Miami's interior weaknesses were also exposed by Oklahoma City. The Thunder held a plus-11 rebounding edge and outscored the Heat 24-10 on second chance points, including 15-2 in the second half.
Elsewhere around the NBA:
• After seeing his 53-game double-double streak snapped against the Warriors on March 13, Kevin Love started a new streak with 22 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday. It was his 40th 20-10 game of the season, the third player to reach that mark, joining Dwight Howard (42) and Blake Griffin (40).
• Speaking of Howard, he took a page of out Love’s book, as he scored 31 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in the Orlando Magic's victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. It was Howard’s first 30-point, 20-rebound game this season and fifth of his career. Love leads the NBA this season with four such games.
• Greg Monroe took Detroit Pistons fans back to the “Bad Boy” days in the team's victory over the Toronto Raptors. Monroe, who scored 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and had five assists, is the first Pistons center to go 20-10-5 since Bill Laimbeer did it three times in the 1988-89 season.