The kids were all right, it just took awhile to get their footing.
But with Russell Westbrook shaking off a rough start and Kevin Durant stepping up to his scoring-leader legacy, the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame an early 13-point deficit to eventually spring to a 105-94 victory Tuesday night over the Miami Heat at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The victory gives the Thunder a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals that continue Thursday on their home court.
A 9-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters put it away, with Durant and Westbrook closing with the type of flourish that defined their ouster of the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.
Durant, who won his third scoring championship this season, led the Thunder with 36 points. Westbrook added 27, recovering from a 3-of-10 first half from the field. LeBron James led the Heat with 30 points, his high in his 11 career Finals games. Unlike Westbrook, Heat guard Dwyane Wade could not shake another uneven start, closing with 19 points.
Up seven at the halftime, the Heat opened the second half 1-for-5 from the field. That allowed the Thunder to push all the way back to a 60-60 tie with 6:44 to play in the third on a Thabo Sefolosha layup.
But after Westbrook missed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession that could have given the Thunder their first lead of the night, James attacked the basket for three layups for a 71-66 Heat lead.
Finally, with 16.4 seconds to play in the third, Westbrook drove and was fouled by Mike Miller, with his three-point play giving the Thunder a 74-73 lead, their first of the night. That was the score going into the fourth quarter. From there, the play of Durant and Westbrook and the defense of Sefolosha, the Thunder closed it out, with Durant closing 6-for-7 on 3-pointers, more than enough to offset the Heat’s early 3-point success.