OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 14: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots the ball over Thabo Sefolosha #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder late in the fourth quarter in Game Two of the 2012 NBA Finals at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 14, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Heat Strike: Miami Holds On For Game 2 Win, 1-1 Finals Tie

The Heat held another halftime lead against the Thunder. This one, they kept, winning Game 2 of the Finals 100-96. Although the ending wasn't without controversy as the refs swallowed their whistles several times.

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Heat Outlast OKC, And The NBA Finals Are Perfect

LeBron James had 32 points and a little help from the refs, and the Heat survived another Thunder comeback to tie up the series with a Game 2 win. The NBA Finals can't get much better than this.

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NBA Finals Game 2 Ratings Strongest Since 2004

The overnight ratings for Game 2 of the 2012 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are in, and ABC claims it was the most watched Game 2 since 2004. The overnight rating was 11.8 for Game 2, up 12 percent from last year's Game 2 between the Heat and the Dallas Mavericks.

The game peaked in crunch time (11:30-11:45 p.m. ET) with a 15.1, meaning that an estimated 15.1 percent of all households with TVs were tuned in during the span.

The two-game rating is the highest for an NBA Finals series since 2004, ABC says. That year pitted the L.A. Lakers against the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons stunningly won that series and their third NBA championship.

Game 2 on Thursday did a record 44.4 rating in the Oklahoma City market, and a 30.3 rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale.

For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City.

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NBA Finals: Is Russell Westbrook The Reason For Thunder Loss?

Russell Westbrook is not without his flaws, of course, but he's proven to be a pretty good player for the Oklahoma City Thunder over the past couple of seasons. Considering he plays alongside Kevin Durant -- one of the best players in the NBA -- however, he's typically blamed whenever Durant has a solid game that still results in a Thunder loss.

That was the case again, for better or worse, following OKC's loss on Thursday night as the Miami Heat tied the series at one game apiece in the NBA Finals. It wasn't difficult to find national media members putting at least partial blame on Westbrook, but the biggest critic seemed to be CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel.

The story, to me, was the first five minutes of the game, when the Thunder fell and couldn't get up. Why did they fall? Well, Russell Westbrook is why. And that was apparent from the top row of Chesapeake Energy Arena, where I couldn't tell Perkins from Ibaka or Haslem from Bosh, but I could tell something was wrong with Russell Westbrook.

He was hyper. Distracted. Erratic, out of control. He was doing the one thing he does when he's playing poorly -- he was playing too fast, and this is a guy whose speed is one of his greatest attributes. In the Western Conference finals he chased down Spurs blur Tony Parker, making a play Brooks said couldn't be made by more than two or three guys in the world. Playing fast is what Westbrook does, and he does it well.

Playing too fast? It's also what he does from time to time, and it's his worst quality. He is so quick that he can get any shot he wants, whenever he wants it, but he hasn't learned the discretion to choose wisely. And he chose poorly in the first few minutes of Game 2.

Well, yikes. It's true that Westbrook didn't play his best game of basketball on Thursday night -- in his defense, even Durant wasn't flawless -- but it's kind of troubling to see that he's the one being blamed every time something doesn't go right for the Thunder.

For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For Thunder news and notes, visit Welcome To Loud City or check out SB Nation Kansas City. And for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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Heat Vs. Thunder: LeBron James Is Shaking The 'Not Clutch' Label

LeBron James and the Miami Heat picked up a big victory on Thursday night to tie the NBA Finals at one game apiece, as the series moves to Florida for the next three contests. Most talking points are likely going to revolve around whether or not a foul should have been called late in the game, but the key to the game was James' play on the other end of the court.

There are plenty of people in the world that seem to revel in the fact that James has yet to win an NBA championship, but the Heat superstar seems to be moving closer to shedding the narrative that he's "unclutch" and "not a closer." The most recent indication came on Thursday night, according to Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen.

The big difference was in LeBron himself. After operating from the perimeter in a Game 1 loss, in which he played to the style of his former self, he opened Game 2 by setting up near the basket and attacking whenever possible. The Heat opened a crucial 18-2 lead, but more impressive was their finishing down the stretch as Russell Westbrook and Durant threatened to see if the Heat would wilt.

It's still early, and there will be many more fourth quarters to be dueled against Durant, but this was the kind of result James had been seeking on the biggest stage, and it was the kind of leadership that made his teammates want to sign up with him. They have been in this together for two years of vilification and second-guessing, and neither Wade nor Bosh has ever publicly regretted having attached his good name to the nasty carnival that has been created around LeBron. They've had faith that a night like this would come.

The Heat will likely have to win the championship -- not just Game 2 -- if James is going to remove the narrative for good. If he's able to keep playing like he has as of late, there's a good chance that happens.

For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For Thunder news and notes, visit Welcome To Loud City or check out SB Nation Kansas City. And for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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NBA Finals: Was Kevin Durant As Brilliant As Box Score Indicated?

The Oklahoma City Thunder made a pretty miraculous comeback during the waning seconds in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, but it was the Miami Heat who held on for the series-tying victory. The talk of the town is going to surround Kevin Durant and whether or not the officials should have called LeBron James for a foul late in the game, but there's much more to examine when it comes to the Thursday night play of the NBA's leading scorer.

Durant ended the game with a pretty efficient line in the box score with 32 points while shooting 12-of-22 from the floor -- including a pretty solid four of 10 from beyond the arc -- but that wasn't enough to get him a free pass from our friends at Welcome to Loud City. J.A. Sherman, one of SB Nation's excellent Thunder bloggers, actually noted Durant's game as one of the three keys ... and not in a good way.

Kevin Durant shot 4-10 from 3-point range. When morning arrives and you peruse the box score you might be inclined to think that despite the big miss at the end, Durant played pretty well. From my perspective, I thought he played pretty poor offensive ball throughout, and as we've seen over the course of the last 2 seasons, the easiest tell-tale sign is to look at his number of 3-point attempts.

Any time Durant attempts a double-digit number of 3-point shots, it is a clear indication that he is not playing to his strengths. Even though 4-10 is technically a high shooting percentage, when Durant is taking almost half of his shots from beyond the arc it means that he is not getting to the rim, he is not making the defense work, and he is not drawing fouls. Durant only attempted 6 free throws on the night (compared to LeBron's 12-12 effort at the stripe).

Consider the preceding paragraphs were written from the perspective of a Thunder fan. And then, once you're over that, think about how much sense it makes.

Whether or not the officials should have allowed Durant to shoot potentially game-tying free-throws is largely up for debate, but the fact of the matter is Durant should have been looking to get to the free-throw line a lot earlier than that late in the game.

For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For Thunder news and notes, visit Welcome To Loud City or check out SB Nation Kansas City. And for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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Foul Play: How The Refs Screwed Kevin Durant And The Thunder

Referees tend to swallow their whistles in the closing moments of close games, but when legitimate fouls are not called as occurred in Game 2 of the NBA Finals Thursday night, the impact on the outcome can be just as dramatic.

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Thunder Vs. Heat, 2012 NBA Finals Game 2: Miami Holds On For 100-96 Triumph

Once again, the Miami Heat built a big lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals. But this time, Miami held on for a win by holding on for dear life, and the 100-96 victory in Game 2 ties the Finals at 1-1 with the series heading to South Beach.

The Heat bolted from the gate, leading 18-2 and by 12 after the first quarter, and led by as many as 17 points. But Kevin Durant heated up in the fourth quarter, and he and Russell Westbrook (27 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) pulled the Thunder to within two points at 98-96 with under 15 seconds to play and the ball. But Durant couldn't get to 34 points from the 32 he finished with on the night, missing a short jumper while guarded by LeBron James, and the Thunder fell for the first time in OKC in the 2012 NBA playoffs.

James' steady excellence piloted the Heat to this win. He had 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and the free-throw shooting that so often bedevils him was a strength on Thursday night as he sank all 12 of his attempts from the line. Dwyane Wade added 24 points for Miami, Chris Bosh had 10 points and 15 rebounds and Shane Battier drained five threes in a 17-point performance.

Now, the series shifts to the Heat's home court. Game 3 takes place Sunday night.

For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For Thunder news and notes, visit Welcome To Loud City or check out SB Nation Kansas City. And for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.

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Sara Evans' Pants Were Very Loud And Green

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ESPN producer No. 1: "SOMEONE TURN DOWN THE BRIGHTNESS AHHHHH MY EYES"

ESPN producer No. 2: (lies writhing in ESPN truck)

Sara Evans: "Whew, y'all didn't ... oh, you did hear that anthem, huh."

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When Thunder Take Off, They Need To Leave James Harden Behind

The time is ticking on this version of the Thunder due to new luxury tax rules. Game 1 helped show why OKC should choose Serge Ibaka over James Harden.

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NBA Finals: Miami Heat Need To Be More Aggressive In Game 2

The Miami Heat are obviously going to make some adjustments to their game plan following their loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Apart from the things that can be corrected by the coaching staff, though, the players could help out quite a bit if they become more aggressive in Game 2.

It wasn't evident throughout the entire game on Tuesday night, but the Heat seemed a bit more passive than they should have been in the second half. Our friends over at Peninsula is Mightier, SB Nation's Miami Heat blog, put in a pretty firm request that Miami starts going to the rack rather than hoisting up jumpers.

Offensively, the Big Three have to stop settling for so many jump shots. James was the most aggressive of the Heat's stars by far. He made two consecutive straight-line drives to the basket in the third quarter to halt a Thunder run and made two shots in the fourth quarter despite getting fouled both times. But he took a few jumpers on Durant when he could have driven to the basket.

As for the other two, they thoroughly disappointed. Wade made his first two jumpers on the baseline, but attempted way too many jump shots. If someone wants to look at the silver lining for Wade, he did get into the lane much more frequently late in the fourth quarter. Bosh never attempted his signature "pump fake, hard drive" move to the basket in the game. He is a great shooter for a big man, but needs to include some drives to the basket to diversify his game.

There's little doubt that the coaching staff hammered this point home to the Heat players in between Games 1 and 2, but it'll be interesting to see just how aggressive Miami can be as it looks to even the series.

For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For Thunder news and notes, visit Welcome To Loud City. And for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's NBA page.

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Heat Vs. Thunder: Chris Bosh Needs To Step Up In Game 2 ... Or Else

The Miami Heat looked pretty solid through three quarters in the first game of the 2012 NBA Finals, but it was the Oklahoma City Thunder that ended up on top when the final buzzer sounded. There are likely going to be quite a few game plan changes made for Thursday night's Game 2, but it seems quite a few issues could be alleviated if Miami is able to get more out of Chris Bosh.

Bosh missed a significant portion of the earlier NBA Playoffs with an abdominal strain, but the third member of the vaunted "Big Three" has now been back in the lineup for a few games, giving him time to get his playoff legs back. Now that he's had time to re-acclimate himself with the court, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix writes that it's time to show why he's often mentioned in the same breath as teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Bosh will have to kick it into gear, quickly. The pressure will always be on James to win and the grace period Wade received for winning the title in 2006 has long since expired. But Bosh faces a different kind of scrutiny. He chose to come to Miami, but one more season on the wrong end of a Finals celebration could punch his ticket out of town. The Thunder are proof that you can win without an offensive-minded frontcourt, so long as you have scorers everywhere else. And if a top point guard suddenly becomes available, you can bet Bosh's name will be the first out of Riley's mouth.

In reality, this game might not be as important to Bosh's career as Mannix writes that it is. That said, however, there's no doubt he'd be the easiest member of the Big Three to part with and, if that happens, he'll be scrutinized the rest of his career for failing to help the much-hyped Heat win an NBA Championship after all of the initial fanfare.

For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For Thunder news and notes, visit Welcome To Loud City. And for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's NBA page.

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