In their NBA Finals debuts, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shined the brightest nine years ago.
After dispatching of the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City became the center of the basketball universe as the Thunder were slated to host LeBron James’ Miami Heat in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals.
Questions about how the Thunder would handle the biggest stage were immediately answered as a monster fourth quarter from Durant gave OKC the series lead in their first ever finals contest.
Durant scored 17 of his 36 points in the final 12 minutes, and he teamed up with Westbrook to outscore the Heat in the second half by themselves en route to a 105-94 victory.
Westbrook’s 12 third quarter points pulled OKC within one heading into the fourth, when Durant promptly took over.
Overshadowing James down the stretch, Durant relentlessly attacked Miami while Thabo Sefolosha held the Heat star scoreless over the first eight minutes of the fourth.
Scott Brooks’ side ramped up the defensive intensity out of the break, only allowing 40 second half points.
“I think we just came out with a lot more intensity on the defensive end,” Westbrook said after the game per an ESPN report. “Made them feel us a little bit.”
Though they arrived in the Finals ahead of schedule, the Thunder proved they belonged and would be worthy adversaries for the Heat.
Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison also played important minutes for OKC, adding a combined 18 points to help carry the scoring load as James Harden struggled.
Scoring only five points on 2-of-6 shooting, Harden’s performance foreshadowed the difficult series Oklahoma City’s sixth man would ultimately have.
Durant finished with eight rebounds and four assists to go along with his 36 points, and Westbrook finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.
James finished the game with 30 points, a career-high in the NBA Finals at the time for the superstar.
Game 1 would be the only game the Thunder would win in the series.