OKLAHOMA CITY - Not this time.
Miami survived a furious Thunder rally in Game 2 of the NBA final and now heads home for three games with the series tied at one win apiece after a 100-96 victory.
The referees said play on as Kevin Durant attacked the hoop looking for the tie with seconds remaining and LeBron James grabbed the board and iced the game with free throws at the other end.
Replays indicated James fouled Durant — perhaps twice — on the play.
Still, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks didn’t blame the officiating for the loss.
“If you’re down 17, too many things have to happen, you have to be perfect,” Brooks said.
“We didn’t get the call. We play aggressive basketball, last minute. I wouldn’t be looking at that. I’d be focused on the first six to eight minutes of the game instead of the last play of the game.”
James was sensational with 32 points — matching Durant — mostly scoring inside, while Chris Bosh had a “sensational” return to the starting lineup according to head coach Erik Spoelstra, with 16 points and 15 rebounds. And Dwyane Wade regained his old form with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists.
James did his best to shed the label that he is not a clutch player. He made all 12 of his free throws and answered big Thunder baskets with buckets of his own several times.
The Thunder closed to within three points with 1:47 remaining on a Russell Westbrook put-back, looked dead in the water from there, but rallied again to make things extremely interesting.
It is OKC’s first home loss of these playoffs.
Westbrook scored 27, but missed 16-of-26 shots, many of them from in close.
That left the point guard shaking his head.
The game began following a similar script as the opener. While the Thunder struggled to hit shots, Shane Battier was on fire from outside and Miami built an 18-2 lead.
The plan was to isolate James and he went to work, eager to prove Thabo Sefolosha did not actually have the answers the rest of the league had been searching for for years.
With Westbrook struggling something awful, particularly from in close and Durant in foul trouble, James Harden picked up the slack with 17 points in the first half.
After outscoring the Heat 24-2 on the fast break in Game 1, OKC did not manage a single point on the run until just under four minutes remained in the third.
Despite all of that and despite five fouls on Durant, the superstar managed to score some quick points to get his team back in the game and Westbrook cut the lead to three with his drive before James responded and the Heat pulled away.
Or so we all thought.
The never say die Thunder rallied again, with Durant nailing a three and James missing a shot to give the Thunder a chance to win the game with a three.
But Durant opted for a two, thought he was fouled, didn’t get the call and James instead went to the line the other way to ice the game.
“I missed the shot man,” was all Durant had to say about the crucial play afterward.
The Thunder had rallied from 13 down in the first meeting of the series but couldn’t quite overturn Miami’s once 17-point advantage this time around.