x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Kevin Durant's brave Oklahoma City Thunder look ahead

The young team have already identified their weaknesses following their 4-1 defeat to the Miami Heat in the NBA finals.

Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward, was in great form all season. Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward, was in great form all season. Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

MIAMI // Nine days after entering the NBA finals as favourites, the Oklahoma City Thunder have switched their battle cry to "wait til next year".

There was no miracle comeback for the Thunder, who went into Game 5 against Miami Heat last night 3-1 down in the series and were trampled 121-106.

The team - one of the youngest in the post-season – did not have much experience to draw on and were facing a veteran Miami side looking for redemption after losing in the 2011 finals to the Dallas Mavericks.

"It hurts. It hurts, man," said Kevin Durant, the Thunder forward. "We're all brothers on this team, and it just hurts to go out like this."

Durant, a three-time NBA leading scorer, shot 13-of-24 from the field and finished with a game-high 32 points and 11 rebounds.

Guard Russell Westbrook missed 16 of 20 field goal attempts but made 11 of 13 free throws to finish with 19 points.

"They just attacked the ball," Westbrook said. "They did a good job of attacking us on our pick-and-roll and attacking the ball and making it tough."

The Thunder's problems all series long stemmed from being too slow on the fast break and a failure to protect the paint. Last night, you could add an inability to defend against the three-point shot as Miami drained 14 baskets from beyond the arc. Mike Miller went seven-of-eight by himself.

"Their defence is really good," Durant said. "I didn't want to admit it during the series, but now that it's over, those guys are really good. Last team standing."

The Thunder's three previous losses were by a total of just 16 points – four, six and six. But last night's game was a blow-out, with Miami leading by 27 points at one stage in the fourth quarter.

"They had everything going," said Scott Brooks, the Thunder coach, of Miami. "Their lay-up game, drive game. They just took it to us tonight. It is unfortunate we couldn't handle all the things they were throwing at us. They beat us fair and square."

James Harden, the Thunder guard, was already looking to next season.

"We definitely showed signs of improvement. We are not too far away. It will be hard work this summer and hopefully we will get back here," he said.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE