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News » Heat tops Thunder for 3rd straight


Heat tops Thunder for 3rd straight


Heat tops Thunder for 3rd straight
MIAMI (AP) - For a team less than three years removed from winning an NBA championship, a three-game winning streak might seem like no big deal.

But to the Miami Heat, it's a significant step forward.

NBA scoring leader Dwyane Wade scored 25 of his 38 points in the first half and Miami beat the reeling Oklahoma City Thunder 105-99 on Saturday night. The Heat have won three straight for the first time since April 2007, ending the second-longest drought in the league — only Minnesota has gone longer without such a spurt.

"We don't want to stop, either," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We have to maintain our focus and keep on moving forward. Particularly with this group, I don't want us to relax at all."

NBA roundup


Saturday's action

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  • Billups, Nuggets hammer Kings
  • Deng lifts Bulls over Wizards
  • Harris shakes off flu to lead Nets
  • Heat tops Thunder for 3rd straight
  • Clippers extend T-wolves' drought to 5
  • Paul, Hornets sting Grizzlies

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That's exactly what Miami did in the fourth quarter, nearly blowing the game.

Down by 15 entering the fourth, Oklahoma City opened the final period with a 20-5 run over the first 5:57, getting nine points from Kevin Durant over that spurt and pulling into a 90-all tie. But the Thunder never managed to take the lead, and Miami escaped after holding Oklahoma City without a field goal for a 5 1/2-minute stretch of the fourth.

"We should have never let them back in the ballgame," Wade said.

Udonis Haslem finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds for Miami. Shawn Marion added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat (11-9), who also got 15 points from Mario Chalmers - including a key 3-pointer to break that tie midway through the fourth.

Russell Westbrook scored 30 points for Oklahoma City (2-19), which matched the fifth-worst 21-game start in league history. Four teams, most recently the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks, opened 1-20.

That doesn't mean the Thunder were pushovers.

"Our guys fought and competed," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We came up short. Not one guy in there is happy with moral victories. We have enough of those."

Jeff Green scored 21 points for the Thunder. Durant added 18, Nick Collison scored 14, and Earl Watson had a game-high 12 assists.

Wade, who also had seven assists and five rebounds, started quickly, getting 11 points in a span of 3:03 in the first quarter, helping the Heat score a season-best 36 points in the period and open a nine-point lead.

Miami saw the margin swell to 12 midway through the second quarter and then to 15 when Wade soared past Desmond Mason and Collison for what became a three-point play with 2.8 seconds remaining in the third, as cries of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" rained down from the stands.

It only seemed to inspire the Thunder.

With Durant and Collison leading the way in the fourth, Oklahoma City made things far more interesting than the Heat wanted.

"We were right there," Westbrook said. "As long as we keep pushing, we will be all right."

But when Wade came off the bench, when he'd been since the start of the fourth, order was restored.

He found Chalmers for a 3-pointer, then hit Marion for another score, and then hit a short fadeaway to give Miami some breathing room in the form of a 97-91 lead with 3:27 remaining.

Wade entered the night averaging an NBA-best 28.4 points, and exceeded that by the midpoint of the third quarter - adding to his margin over Cleveland's LeBron James in the league scoring race.

Wade is now averaging 28.9 points; James, who scored 25 points in Cleveland's easy win at Charlotte, is at 26.5 per game.

"A basketball game is way more than scoring," Wade said. "It's all about wins and all about what we're doing on the defensive end."

Notes

Most of the NBA already has enjoyed three-game winning streak this season. Still waiting: Chicago, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Golden State, Washington, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers. ... The Heat began a five-game stretch where they'll face four teams with records currently below .500. ... Westbrook nearly missed a breakaway dunk with 3:55 left in the third, but the ball bounced off the rim and down through the net. ... The 11-9 start is Miami's best since 2004-05 - and is one game better than where the Heat were after 20 games in their 2005-06 championship season. ... Haslem has had at least 13 rebounds in three straight games.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 7, 2008

 

 
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