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Oklahoma City Thunder players, Derek Fisher, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, from left, react at a break against the Miami Heat during the second half at Game 4 of the NBA finals basketball series, Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 104-98. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heats Up Against Thunder in Crucial Game 4


The Thunder came out with a vengeance on Tuesday night and took an early lead against Miami in a crucial game four.  Oklahoma seemed to understand the importance of getting a win to tie the series at 2-2, going into game 5 at home on Thursday.
However, despite Oklahoma City building a comfortable 33-19 lead by the end of the first quarter,  Miami struck back in the second and third periods to overcome the deficit and establish a four point lead going into the final quarter.  In a neck and neck battle in the fourth, the focus of the game revolved one player: none other than OKC’s explosive point guard Russell Westbrook.
After demonstrating one of the greatest finals performances that the NBA has seen in years, Russell Westbrook made a late-game decision that may have arguably cost his team the game, and has since become the center of controversy in the basketball world.
With 40.5 seconds left in the game and the Thunder only down by 3, James Harden and Udonis Haslem got tangled up for a jump-ball call.  With five seconds remaining on the shot clock, the jump ball was tipped by Harden where Mario Chalmers of the Heat was able to scoop up the loose ball.  Considering that there were only 5 seconds left on the shot clock, the Heat would be rushed to get off a shot and pending a miss, the Thunder would regain possession of the ball with an opportunity to tie up the ball game.  However, out of sudden impulse, or purely bad decision-making, Westbrook decides to run up and intentionally foul Mario Chalmers.  Chalmers, being an excellent free throw shooter, gets a free trip to the charity stripe to knock down two clutch free throws and essentially seal the deal.
Did Russell Westbrook commit a terrible foul?  Yes.  Did he cost his team the game?  No.  While all the haters will be quick to point fingers at Westbrook for his questionable decision making down the stretch, the fact of the matter is this: Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 43 points including 17 of which came in the fourth quarter to put his team even in contention, and even if Westbrook had not committed the foul, the Thunder were still looking at slim chances to win the game.
Headed back home to Oklahoma City for a much-anticipated game 5 on Thursday night, the Thunder must figure things out quickly if they are to have any hope of extending this series.  And with there being no team in the NBA’s past to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals, history is definitely not on their side.
Can the Thunder re-write history?

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