x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

NBA: Durant inspires comeback as Thunder win opening Finals match

Oklahoma City maintain unbeaten home record as they rally to record opening 105-94 victory over Miami Heat.

Kevin Durant shoots over Miami Heat's Shane Battier.
Kevin Durant shoots over Miami Heat's Shane Battier.

OKLAHOMA CITY // Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 41 points in the second half as Oklahoma City Thunder rallied to beat Miami 105-94 in the opening game of the NBA Finals.

Durant scored 23 of his game-high 36 points in the second half while Westbrook had 12 third-quarter points for the Thunder, who kept up their unbeaten home record with their ninth win in a row at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Westbrook finished with 27 points and 11 assists while Serge Ibaka had 10 points and six rebounds for the Thunder, who are making their first NBA Finals appearance since 1996 when they were based in Seattle as the SuperSonics.

Game two of the best-of-seven series is set for Thursday in Oklahoma City.

LeBron James had a team-high 30 points and Dwyane Wade finished with 19 points and eight assists for the Heat, who lost to the Dallas Mavericks in last year's finals. The Heat seek Miami's first NBA title since 2006.

Oklahoma City's 8-0 home mark over the first three rounds saw the Thunder storm through the West by sweeping the Mavericks, ousting the Los Angeles Lakers in five games and polishing off the San Antonio Spurs in six games.

Durant, making his first appearance in the NBA Finals, put on a shooting clinic in the second half, scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter.

The series is billed as three-time NBA Most Valuable Player James against three-time scoring champion Durant and Durant clearly won the marquee matchup in game one.

The Heat hope to silence critics and prove they are capable of winning the titles expected of them when James, Wade and Chris Bosh gathered in Miami in 2010.

James may not have matched Durant shot for shot in the fourth quarter but he was no slouch, finishing with nine rebounds and four assists.

Westbrook gave the Thunder their first lead of the game with 16 seconds to play in the third quarter by finishing off a three-point play to make it 74-73.

The Thunder outscored the Heat 27-19 in the third quarter and committed only two turnovers in the second half after making eight turnovers in the first half.

"When we defend, we are a very good team and when we don't we are average," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

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