Kevin Durant scores 36 points in Game 1 of NBA Finals, propelling Thunder to victory over Miami Heat

The relentless youth of the Oklahoma City Thunder that wasn't going to allow an early 13- point deficit to get them down.

The fool's gold of early outside Heat success while the Thunder were building inside dominance.

The inability of Dwyane Wade to step up from early struggles the way Thunder guard Russell Westbrook did in the second quarter.

And, just like that, there was a 105-94 loss Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena and a 1-0 deficit in these best-of-seven NBA Finals.

"We were thinking we were putting ourselves in a position to win, and then they just went away," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

More to the point, Thunder forward Kevin Durant took it away, scoring 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter. It was the second-highest-scoring Finals debut, behind only the 48 points of the Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson.

"We need to keep our bodies in front of him," Spoelstra said of Durant, "but that's much easier said than done."

Durant's performance overshadowed a 30-point effort from Heat forward LeBron James, the highest-scoring of his 11 career Finals games.

While Durant and James had similar statistical nights, Durant adding eight rebounds and four assists, James with nine rebounds and four assists, the difference was Thunder points guard Russell Westbrook outscoring Heat guard Dwyane Wade 27-19.

But even more significant than that differential was the Thunder's 24-4 edge in fastbreak points and a 56-40 advantage in the paint.

"They beat us at their game," Spoelstra said, "and beat us in a game that's very similar to us when we're playing well."

With the victory, the Thunder improved to 9-0 at home this postseason, with the Heat falling to 4-4 on the road in these playoffs.

The saving grace for the Heat? In each of their two Finals appearances, the loser of Game 1 has gone on to win the series, against the Dallas Mavericks in 2006 when they won and last season when the took the opener at then fell to Dallas in six games.

Game 2 is Thursday on the Thunder's homecourt before the only playoff round played on a 2-3-2 basis moves to AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday night for the start of three games on the Heat's court.

This was the 11th meeting between James and Thunder, with James 7-2 coming in, all in the regular season.

But in the one that mattered most, their first career playoff meeting, it was advantage Durant, who shot 6 of 7 on 3-pointers.

Durant said it took a relentless approach to overcome the Heat and James.

"Every time out, our coaches were saying, 'Play harder! Play harder!" and that's what we did."


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