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The Miami Heat are officially in control of the NBA Finals. The Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 91-85 in Game 3 Sunday night to take a 2-1 series lead. Coming back from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter, the Heat led for all but 20 seconds of the fourth quarter.
LeBron James led all scorers with 29 points with 14 rebounds, while Dwyane Wade put up 25 points on 8 of 22 shooting. He also had 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The Heat only shot 38% from the field, but made 23 of its 28 buckets in the paint and went 31 for 35 from the free throw line.
"Last year I didn't make enough game-changing plays, and that's what I kind of pride myself on," James said after the game. "I didn't do that last year in the Finals. I'm just trying to make game-changing plays, and whatever it takes for our team to win, just trying to step up in key moments and be there for my teammates."
Kevin Durant scored 25 for OKC, but only four of those points came in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City shot just 15 of 24 from the charity stripe, and only 4 of 18 from three point range. Russell Westbrook scored 19 points with 4 assists, while Kendrick Perkins scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Thunder kept things close early for the first time in the Finals. Miami led by 6 points after the first quarter, and only 2 at halftime. Miami shot just 3 of 22 outside the restricted area in the first half, and 3 of 22 from everywhere else on the court in the first half. The Heat shot 38.8% from outside the restricted area during the regular season.
Miami's shooting woes continued in the third quarter, as the Heat could convert only 4 of 15 field goals. The Thunder were not much better, but still took a ten-point lead late in the third quarter.
Just when it seemed like the Heat were in danger of dropping its first home game of the Finals, Miami stormed back. With Kevin Durant sitting the last 5:41 of the third quarter with four fouls, the Heat went on a 15-3 run to close the quarter and regain control.
"It's a tough break for us, man," Durant said. "You know, I hate sitting on the bench, especially with fouls."
And for the first time all series, the Heat outscored OKC in the final quarter, holding the Thunder to 7 of 17 shooting and drawing 6 turnovers and 6 fouls. James appeared to put the game away when he made it an 84-77 game on a drive past Durant that resulted in a three-point play. The Thunder would not go quietly, though, clawing back to make it an 86-85 game with 1:30 to go.
With 34 seconds to go and Miami clinging to an 88-85 lead, Westbrook missed a potential game-tying three-pointer. The Thunder would not score again, and James iced the game by making one of two free throws with 16 seconds left.
"Last year I don't know if we was experienced enough as a unit to deal with what came at us," Wade said. "I just feel like we understand the situations more and we can deal with it better."
Shane Battier continued his hot shooting, making both of his three-point attempts and drawing a foul on a third. He scored 9 points. Chris Bosh had his second straight double-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks.
The Heat will look to put Oklahoma City in a 3-1 hole on Tuesday, with tipoff at 9 p.m.