Jun 21, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher (37) talks to Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) during the fourth quarter in game five in the 2012 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NBA Finals: LeBron, Miami Win 2012 NBA Championship

The Heat won the 2012 NBA Championship with a 121-106 win over the Thunder in Game 5.

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Russell Westbrook Comes Out With Career Game On NBA's Biggest Stage

While the Miami Heat won Game Four, it was a personal coming out party of sorts for Russell Westbrook, the 1A to Kevin Durant’s 1 on the Oklahoma City Thunder roster. The performance he put up in the Thunder’s losing effort in the Heat’s 104-98 victory was incredible, the sort of performance rarely displayed on the NBA’s biggest stage: the Finals.

Westbrook’s final line was sick. Forty three points. Seven rebounds. Five assists. He hit 20 of 32 field goals from the floor. Those are the sorts of the numbers that Hall of Fame candidates point to as proof that they gave their best when it mattered the most.

“I was just trying to stay in attack mode,” he said in the post-game conference. “Shots were falling, but it really doesn’t mean anything. We didn’t come out with a win.”

His teammates acknowledged that Westbrook became the focus since he was playing so well.

“He had it going since the beginning of the game, and when a guy has it going, we have to keep feeding him,” Kevin Durant said. “He was making shots and keeping us in the game and we just tried to play off of him.”

Now the Thunder have to hope that Westbrook’s performance will continue and that they can turn the tide. The odds are against them, but every player has shown an ability to rise up and be the star. The Thunder just have to put it all together.


For more on this 2012 NBA Finals, be sure to read our StoryStream here. Check outWelcome To Loud City for more on the Thunder and Peninsula Is Mightier for more on the Heat.

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VIDEO: Heat Vs. Thunder Game 4 Highlights And Breakdown From SB Nation

Last night's game four win in the 2012 NBA Finals by the Miami Heat over the Oklahoma City Thunder now places Scott Brooks' team on the ropes given the 3-1 edge enjoyed by LeBron James and company. LeBron should now validate The Decision with just one more win and bring NBA glory to his own legacy as well as the career impact of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Lost in the shuffle of the stars is Mario Chalmers most of the team but it's hard to ignore 25 points on 9 of 15 shooting by anyone and the Kansas product didn't disappoint last night on the biggest stage. He had only 1 turnover all game while contributing 3 assists and 2 steals.

Check out the breakdown from SB Nation below:


For more on this 2012 NBA Finals, be sure to read our StoryStream here. Check outWelcome To Loud City for more on the Thunder and Peninsula Is Mightier for more on the Heat.

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NBA Finals 2012: Mario Chalmers Plays Hero Role For Miami Heat

With the Miami Heat so close to NBA glory, it wasn't LeBron James who was the hero of game four. Nor was it Dwyane Wade. It wasn't even Chris Bosh. Instead it was former Kansas Jayhawk Mario Chalmers who rose to the occasion to become the hero for the Heat in their 104-98 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

Chalmers had an incredible 25 points on 9 of 15 shooting from the floor in a performance that was efficient on all levels. Chalmers was the scoring presence the team needed from the backcourt as an answer to the Thunder's scoring prowess and it came on a night when injuries flared up for both LeBron and Wade.

ESPN's Tom Haberstroh writes, "We saw Super Mario Chalmers in Game 4. That Chalmers clutch layup with LeBron sidelined might have been the biggest bucket of his career. Newly flat-topped Norris Cole tried to steal the show with huge buckets early, but Chalmers took the baton and never looked back. More impressive than Chalmers' 25 points? He tallied just one turnover. Chalmers lives for the Finals."

The Thunder are now backed into a corner they likely won't get out of.

For more on this 2012 NBA Finals, be sure to read our StoryStream here. Check outWelcome To Loud City for more on the Thunder and Peninsula Is Mightier for more on the Heat.

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2012 NBA Finals: Kevin Durant Says Thunder 'Have To Seize The Moment'

Kevin Durant is not buying the dynasty hype. Even when he's surrounded by talents like Russell Westbrook and James Harden, he still doesn't believe the talk that has NBA fans and media talking about a potentially great run with several NBA titles. Despite disposing of the Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs to get to this point, Durant believes the NBA features enough competition that they must take care of things now.

"Nothing is guaranteed with the way this league is going with so many great teams," Durant said. "You never know. This is a great opportunity for us. We have to seize the moment and be ready."

It's easy to love the talent and youth of the Oklahoma City Thunder and see how they're constructed for the long run, but Durant is right to focus on the present. OKC head coach Scott Brooks has his players focusing on the right things and it's easy to see why they've done as well as they have. To finish the job ahead of them against the Miami Heat, they will have to stay that focused.

"I think when we put ourselves in this position it was about seizing the moment and taking advantage of this great opportunity," Derek Fisher said. "There are really no guarantees. I don’t think anybody in this building can promise these guys that they’ll be back in the Finals in the future in their careers. So it’s just about enjoying this and taking advantage of it now and getting the most out of it."

For more on the 2012 NBA Finals between the Thunder and Heat go check out Welcome To Loud City and Peninsula Is Mightier. For more news and notes from around the NBA head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.

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Chris Bosh Questions Miami Heat's Effort Not Talent When Discussing 2012 NBA Playoff Deficits

In nearly every series of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat have made the work harder than it was supposed to be. When The Decision was made and LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach, the Heat were supposed to dominate a weaker Eastern Conference and enjoy the spoils that several superstars bring.

However, that has not been the case against gritty teams like the Indiana Pacers or the experience of the Boston Celtics. The Playoffs are always hard, but there were definitely moments that put the Heat on the edge of not making the Finals at all. Yet Chris Bosh says it’s not a matter of talent for the Heat in any of these series. Instead, it’s just about getting these players to put forth the effort required.

"I don’t think it’s a question of talent with this team," said Bosh to the Miami Herald. "It’s always a question of the effort. As long as we bring the effort and determination and play in that desperate form, we’re really tough to beat. We can’t let our guard down because we’re at home. I’m expecting a much harder fought game than Game 2."

That’s definitely the case given how Wade has seemed to quit at times. If the Heat can convince each of their stars to give it their all, it’s going to be very difficult to keep them from hoisting the trophy at the end of the 2012 NBA Finals.

For more on the 2012 NBA Finals between the Thunder and Heat go check out Welcome To Loud City and Peninsula Is Mightier. For more news and notes from around the NBA head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.

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2012 NBA Finals Ratings: OKC, Miami And Cleveland Among Top TV Markets, Seattle Far Behind

The 2012 NBA Finals is earning high marks when it comes to television ratings due to the presence of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder and the stars they bring. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade bring a major presence and Kevin Durant is turning into a marketable icon as well. With several elite players and well-known celebs, it's going to be a great Finals.

That's why it's not surprising, then, that the ratings are so high across the board for game two last night. From the overnight press release:

The two-game NBA Finals overnight ratings average for 2012 is an 11.8, up 11 percent from last year. Game 2 peaked with a 15.1 rating from 11:30 to 11:45 p.m. ET.

What's specifically interesting about the ratings are the markets involved. The two teams involved dominate the local markets, but check out what Josh Krulewitz notes as well.

For all of the fuss over the loss of the Seattle Supersonics to OKC, which was definitely handled the wrong way, the evidence isn't present so far in the Finals that there's a solid group of NBA fans who just want to watch great basketball. Perhaps that's a small sample size and an unfair comparison point, but it's interesting to say the least.

For more on the 2012 NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, check out Welcome To Loud City and Peninsula Is Mightier. For more news and notes from around the NBA head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.

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Russell Westbrook Injury Update: Thumb Issues Continue To Linger For Thunder Point Guard

Russell Westbrook put up an incredible stat line in game one of the 2012 NBA Finals as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Miami Heat and took control of their destiny. But that doesn’t mean the star guard is firing on all cylinders. In fact, he continues to nurse a thumb injury that’s lingered for the last week.

From the AP report, “Westbrook was taking one-handed shots with his right hand after reporters were allowed in to see the end of the session. He then pulled the wrap back and tried a couple with both hands. Westbrook has been dealing with the injury since the Western Conference finals but did not wear any sort of wrap during Oklahoma City’s Game 1 victory on Tuesday night or during practice on Wednesday.”

Westbrook had 27 points and 11 assists in game one and should be okay to suit up tonight for game two, but it’s a sensitive subject for now that will likely be analyzed closely in case Westbrook seems off in any way on Thursday night.

For more on the 2012 NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, check out Welcome To Loud City and Peninsula Is Mightier. For more news and notes from around the NBA head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.

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James Harden Trade Rumors: Oklahoma City Thunder Would Be Foolish To Swap With Bobcats

The latest word buzzing around NBA circles is that the Charlotte Bobcats are looking to trade out of the No. 2 position in the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft. Given the high nature of the pick and the depth of the draft, a team is guaranteed an impact starter like Thomas Robinson from Kansas or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky or perhaps Andre Drummond of Kentucky. But is that enough to lure a team’s veteran star? It shouldn’t be if it’s James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports recently posted the rumor that Harden could potentially be moved for a high draft asset like Charlotte’s if the Bobcats liked Harden enough to make the move and if the Thunder didn’t want to approach luxury tax territory. Certainly Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are going to get paid, and that means the team must make a decision on stars like Harden and Serge Ibaka.

It’s possible that one of the two must go if the team wants to stay below the salary cap threshold established by the new collective bargaining agreement. Thus, on paper, it makes sense to say that Harden could be deemed expendable. But that’s a foolish scenario.

In short, the Bobcats should pull the trigger on this trade in a heartbeat if it were presented. Harden is already a star and yet he could truly flourish if made the primary player on an offensive unit. He’s a well-rounded athlete with no real weaknesses whose best game is yet to come. But the Thunder should never even think offering Harden up — even if he’s going to cost them money.

The reality is that no one in the NBA can stop the Oklahoma City Thunder as they are currently set up. With Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Harden, the team has the perfect core construction to make a long run at the best NBA dynasties. They are undefeated at home in the 2012 NBA Playoffs and are currently up in the Finals — a chance for the first of many NBA championship rings.

To break this up makes no sense. It’s akin to a someone breaking up with their mate because they are paranoid of possible future heartbreak. It’s a "beat the bad news to the punch" sort of move that Sam Presti will likely never think of making. The OKC front office is keenly aware of the beauty of the current roster and they’d be ridiculous to even mess with it.

Is it possible the team could continue its run of dominance with Thomas Robinson instead? Certainly. The Thunder will be a great team with or without Harden on the floor — especially with a top draft asset in addition. However, they are already the NBA’s best team. They will be the NBA’s best team next season and likely the next few seasons beyond that. What’s the point of making a move just to make a move?

Sometimes the best step a person can take is staying right where they are. The Thunder are sitting in the driver’s seat in the NBA for the next half decade. It makes no sense to make a move and the genius minds behind the make-up of the current roster aren’t also foolish enough to tear it apart.

For more on the 2012 NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, check out Welcome To Loud City and Peninsula Is Mightier. For more news and notes from around the NBA head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.

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James Harden To Charlotte Hornets? Bobcats Reportedly Open To Trade No. 2 Draft Choice To Thunder

Sometimes rumors come out of nowhere, and the latest from Jeff Goodman when it comes to the Charlotte Bobcats certainly qualifies. In his latest column looking at NBA Draft trade possibilities, he talks about the Oklahoma City Thunder potentially looking to move James Harden — to the league’s worst franchise.

Goodman writes, “One source said that Oklahoma City’s James Harden could be in play due to the Thunder’s salary situation following next season. GM Sam Presti already has Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the books for more than $29 million next season — and both Harden and Serge Ibaka will command huge contracts after the 2012-13 campaign.”

Thomas Robinson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Bradley Beal would be in play at the No. 2 overall slot in the 2012 NBA Draft. The Thunder would certainly benefit from having an impact young player join the team, but the Thunder are already rolling along as it is with the NBA’s best young core. The team has committed to locking up its young players and, if it’s wiling to pay the tax, they can continue to keep all players together.

Simply put, there’s no reason to move Harden with the money this team is bringing in as it is currently formed. Harden has proved that the best is yet to come and even a No. 2 overall choice might not be enough to sway Sam Presti to break up his core.

Still it’s an interesting rumor to say the least and it should get people talking — one way or the other.

For more on the 2012 NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, check out Welcome To Loud City and Peninsula Is Mightier. For more news and notes from around the NBA head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.

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Heat vs. Thunder: Mike Miller Rebuffs Retirement Talk Before NBA Finals

A few hours after ESPN was among the news outlets reporting that Mike Miller was going to retire after the 2012 NBA Finals pitting the Miami Heat against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miller shot back with a text message questioning the whole subject and the timing of it all.

Ira Winderman has the story for the Sun-Sentinel and writes, "The fact that retirement talk had gone public was not nearly as upsetting to Miller as the timing. “What I said is I guess I’ve got to figure out what is best for me,” he said, stressing that the last thing that should stand as an issue on the eve of the NBA Finals was his future."

Miller has reportedly put his mansion on the auction block and injuries have plagued the three-point specialist for some time. Yet on the eve of a potential championship ring, it’s hardly the time or place to consider retirement, according to Miller.

“This is not the time for that,” he said. “And it’s not something that I even know what’s going to happen.”

For more on the 2012 NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heatcheck out Welcome To Loud City and Peninsula Is Mightier. For more news and notes from around the NBA head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.

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