Durant outshines James as Thunder stifle Heat
Oklahoma City: Kevin Durant upstaged LeBron James to guide the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 103-87 win over the visiting Miami Heat on Sunday.
In a marquee match-up of two teams expected to challenge for the NBA title, Durant recorded 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Western Conference-leading Thunder (37-12).
Durant, being touted as a candidate for the MVP award, was at his best in the second quarter, shouldering the scoring burden as All Star Russell Westbrook sat on the bench mired in foul trouble.
Durant scored 11 in the quarter and pushed the Thunder to an 11-point halftime advantage.
While Durant clearly got the better of fellow MVP candidate James, who finished with 17 points and seven assists, the Thunder`s Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka provided enough defensive presence in the middle to stifle the Heat.
Ibaka finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Perkins scored a season-high 16 points.
"We did a good job of locking the paint up and forcing them to shoot contested shots," Durant told reporters. "They`re a really good team, they do a lot of good things, we just played hard tonight."
Miami`s Dwyane Wade scored a team-high 22 points and Chris Bosh added 18 but the Heat (35-12) were on the back foot for most of the game.
The defeat ended their four-game win streak and leaves them 3.5-games behind Eastern Conference-leading Chicago.
Miami made one last push to get back in the game in the fourth quarter with back-to-back three-pointers from Shane Battier reducing the deficit to eight, but the Thunder answered with a 9-2 run to make the game safe.
The Heat were sloppy in possession and had 21 turnovers for the game.
"Some of it was attack turnovers and some of it was careless turnovers," James told reporters. "We started the game with a turnover and from there on we turned the ball over."