Kevin Durant gives LeBron James fourth-quarter lesson in Game 1
Kevin Durant didn’t embarrass LeBron James on Tuesday night. But the Oklahoma City superstar did show his Miami counterpart how it’s done in the NBA Finals -- particularly in the fourth quarter -- as the Thunder claimed a 105-94 victory in Game 1.
In his first NBA Finals appearance, Durant finished with 36 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter -- numbers James has yet to match in 11 career NBA Finals games.
Now James was no slouch either. He had 30 overall points, the most he’s ever scored in the NBA Finals, but only seven of those came in the fourth quarter. That’s just not going to get the job done in a close game like this one -- and it does little to put to rest a storyline from last year’s championship against the Dallas Mavericks.
During that six-game series, which the Heat lost, 4-2, the best James could muster in the fourth quarter was eight points. He scored two or fewer points in the final stanza of four of those games, all of which were winnable going into that quarter (the Heat actually did win one of them).
Durant, on the other hand, took over during crunch time Tuesday night. The Thunder had just claimed its first lead of the game late in the third quarter and was clinging to a one-point advantage heading into the fourth.
The Oklahoma City star scored six of his team’s first eight points of the quarter as the Thunder extended its lead to five points at the 8:30 mark. James missed two shots and threw the ball away during that same stretch, but at least he was trying -- there were two games in last year’s finals in which he didn’t even take a shot in the fourth quarter.
Obviously there’s still a lot of basketball to be played. But so far if we’re comparing the two players, it’s advantage Durant.
Thunder’s fourth-quarter fly-by beats Heat
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.