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01/29/2014 10:57 PM EST
Thunder erase early 18-point hole, top Heat 112-95
OKLAHOMA CITY 112, MIAMI 95

By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer

MIAMI (AP) -- Down by 18 points midway through the opening
quarter, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder looked well
on their way to witnessing a rout.

That's exactly what happened.

And they enjoyed every moment.

Durant remained sizzling with 33 points, Serge Ibaka added 22
and the Thunder roared back from an abysmal start - they trailed
22-4 early - to embarrass the Miami Heat 112-95 on Wednesday
night, erasing that big deficit out of the gate by outscoring
the two-time defending champions by 43 points over a 33-minute
span.

"They were ready for us to come in and play," Durant said. "They
hit some tough shots early on, a few 3's, and we didn't panic.
We just tried to stay together and that's what we did. Our bench
was great in getting us back in that game."

The Thunder led by as many as 25, and shot 16 for 27 from
3-point range. Miami was 3 for 19 from beyond the arc.

Durant has now scored at least 30 points in 12 straight games,
matching the league's longest such streak since Tracy McGrady
did it in 14 consecutive outings in the 2002-03 season. The
Thunder extended their winning streak to nine, inching them
closer to Indiana in the race for the league's best record. And
the Oklahoma City bench outscored Miami's reserves 39-21, with
Jeremy Lamb scoring 18 and Derek Fisher going 5 for 5 from
3-point range for his 15 points.

"There's no running away from it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra
said. "Other than the first eight minutes of the game they
outclassed us tonight. They absolutely deserved this win."

LeBron James scored 34 points for Miami, his 1-on-1 duel with
Durant not really amounting to much on a night where the Heat
allowed 25 points off turnovers and blew an 18-point lead for
just the fourth time since he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh became
teammates nearly four years ago.

Bosh scored 18 points and Wade added 15 for Miami.

"We played well to start the game," James said. "We played well
all the way until like the second quarter. From that point on
they did what they want to do."

Much of the buzz going into the night was about the MVP race,
and how this might be the season that Durant finally catches
James for the league's top individual award.

Head-to-head, they weren't separated by much. But for just the
fourth time in 17 meetings between their teams, Durant came out
on top.

"It would have been fun to clear the court and watch them go
1-on-1," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

Ibaka opened the scoring with a jumper, and the Heat answered
with an immediate 18-0 run, not even needing 5 minutes to get
what appeared to be complete control. With 6:20 left in the
opening quarter, Bosh made a pair of free throws to make it
22-4.

That pretty much ended the Heat highlights for the evening.

By the end of the first, the Thunder were within nine. Lamb
scored 13 in the second quarter alone, helping Oklahoma City
take a 55-50 lead into the break, with the Thunder already
having scored 19 points off turnovers.

The third quarter, Durant and the Thunder put it away.

Durant and James seemed to be playing a little game of `Can you
top this?' in that period, both finishing with 12 points in the
12 minutes. The difference was, Durant was getting plenty of
help, and James wasn't getting much.

"Rucker Park, that's what was going through my head," Durant
said, referring to the New York basketball landmark where he
scored 66 points in a game during the summer of 2011. "It was
fun. ... I'm sure the fans got what they wanted to see with that
one."

Said James: "It's fun competition. It's been a while since I was
able to do something like that."

Fisher connected on a 3-pointer to end the quarter, pushing
Oklahoma City's margin to 16, and the Heat had no answers in the
fourth.

"We have some work to do," Spoelstra said. "We're like everybody
else in the league. Nobody is infallible. We have some things to
improve on. We know the things we have to improve on. We're not
there yet."

NOTES: Fisher made five 3-pointers, total, when the Heat faced
the Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals. ... Shug McGaughey, who
trained last year's Kentucky Derby winner Orb, was part of the
sellout crowd, along with Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera.
... Oklahoma City shot 14 free throws in the third quarter, the
most by any Heat opponent in that period all season. ... The
Heat fell to 7-12 this season when allowing more than 100
points. They're 25-1 when holding teams under 100. ... The
Thunder are 8-0 on the road against Eastern Conference
opponents.

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