RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn't pull off another comeback against the Miami Heat in the NBA finals. They fell just short in game two last night. Despite a furious fourth quarter rally, the Heat won 100-96. Miami led from the beginning and held on to tie the series at one win apiece. From Oklahoma City, NPR's Tom Goldman reports.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: After it was over, and Miami's big three had done it again - scoring 72 of the heat's 100 points, grabbing 29 of the 40 rebounds - they finally were grounded in a corner of their locker room. LeBron James was in the middle. To his right, Dwayne Wade. To his left, Chris Bosh. The mood was light. They munched on bananas and sat with enormous ice packs on each knee, their bare feet immersed in gray ice buckets.
James and Wade looked over at rookie Norris Cole as he stood, putting on his jacket and tie. James, sounding like an ancient 27-year-old, and then later Wade, mused about the past.
LEBRON JAMES: I used to show up to the game - hey, Cole, my rookie year, first couple of years - I used to show up to the game, get dressed, go out and play, don't stretch. Windmills, 360s, after the game shower, get dressed and leave, in a sweat suit. No dress code back then. None. No dress code back then. (Unintelligible)...
NORRIS COLE: No ice...
JAMES: No ice.
JAMES: All year though, 82 games. Ice? No ice.
COLE: Ice it?
GOLDMAN: They most certainly earned their ice last night. None more so than James, who's team-high 32 points marked the fifth straight game he's had at least 30. And the way he scored - repeatedly driving to the basket to ensure either an easy layup or a foul. He was a perfect 12 for 12 from the free throw line. After Miami went out to a huge early lead, 18-2 at the start of the game, the Thunder tried to claw back. And each time they got close...
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
GOLDMAN: ...the Heat, mostly James, sucked the energy out of Chesapeake Energy Arena, I guess making it just Chesapeake Arena by the end of the night. Here's James.
JAMES: You know, we knew they were going to keep coming. We know they were going to keep fighting. They been doing it the whole post season against all the teams that they've, you know, played against, especially on their home floor. So we just wanted to try to make one more or two more plays than they made.
GOLDMAN: Plays on defense as well as offense. Miami was back to its stingy defensive ways after a lackluster effort in game one. They slowed the speedy Thunder, allowing 11 fast break points after giving up 24 in the opener. Miami forward Udonis Haslem said the Heat did a much better job of sprinting back on defense when the Thunder got the ball.
UDONIS HASLEM: When shots go up, you know, we can't be lackadaisical getting back. We can't sit around and watch them. We've got to get at least two guys back. Sometimes even three.
GOLDMAN: It worked for most of the night, until the Thunder staged a final rally. Three-time NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant was held to six points in the first half, but came back with 26 in the second, and his three-pointer with 12 seconds left pulled OKC to within two. It wouldn't be enough and Durant was left to lament the early, huge deficit.
KEVIN DURANT: You know, we can't get down that much, especially at home. And we've got to correct it. So you know, we've got to just stay positive, man.
GOLDMAN: Hard to do right away, after your first home loss in 10 postseason games. Thunder forward Nick Collison predicted some tossing and turning.
NICK COLLISON: It's difficult. I think there's not a lot you can do. Just lie in the bed and stare at the ceiling until you fall asleep.
GOLDMAN: On a white board, across the room from Collison, someone had written plane, 12:00. A reminder that things aren't going to get any easier for the Thunder as they head to Miami for the next three games.
Tom Goldman, NPR News, Oklahoma City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.