Many years ago I saw David Bromberg perform “You’ve Got To Suffer If You Want To Sing The Blues” in concert and after four games of the NBA Finals, it seems the Oklahoma City Thunder will have to suffer before they win their first Championship in the Association. After defeating the Miami Heat by 11 points in the first game of the match-up, they have lost the last three games by a total of just 16 points, as they fell to the Heat Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena 104-98, giving their opponents a 3-1 lead, with the very real possibility that the Heat could win the Finals on Thursday night on their home-court.
Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who had been the subject of justified criticism over the previous two contests; put on a monster performance, keeping his team alive as he shot 20-32 for a game high 43 points. Once again however, the Thunder faded down the stretch, even with LeBron James watching from the bench after injuring his leg earlier in the quarter. James led the Heat with a double-double including 26 points, but it was the back-court tandem of Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade who came up clutch in the final seconds, with both scoring 25 points in the victory.
Kevin Durant knocked down 28 points for Oklahoma City, however he and Westbrook were the only two players on their roster to score in double-digits, as James Harden had his second straight game in which he was less than impressive, putting up just 8 points, although he did grab 10 rebounds for the night. His biggest gaffe came with 9:56 left in the game and his team trailing by one, he had a clear breakaway to the hoop, but instead of slamming it through the cylinder, he missed a layup that would have put his team on top by a point. Seconds later Chalmers would compound Harden’s nonchalant effort with a driving layup, putting Miami on top by three points at 82-79.
Westbrook still would not give up as he scored 11 straight points and then Durant knocked down a pair at the charity stripe and followed that up by draining an outside jumper with 4:20 left to play to put the Thunder on top 94-92. James who had gone to the bench after injuring his leg, went back into the game and the Heat rattled off seven straight points to pull away 99-94. Westbrook would get his team down by just three points, but that would be as close as they got as they fell short yet again.
The Thunder would have to make history to come back from their 3-1 deficit and win this series. The Fat Lady may not be ready to sing quite yet, but she has at least started gargling after Tuesday night’s contest.