TULSA, OK–The NBA is known for the slogan “Where Amazing Happens”. That was certainly true when it came to the 4th quarter comeback mounted by the “hometown” Oklahoma City Thunder as they edged the Miami Heat in NBA preseason action 96-91 in the BOK Center in front of an announced crowd of 10,427.
Kevin Durant had 30 points, 18 of which were scored in the 4th quarter. Jeff Green was second on the score sheet for Oklahoma City at 25. But it wasn’t until Etan Thomas, a graduate of Tulsa‘s Booker T. Washington High School, sank two free throws with 11.4 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter followed by one of two from the line from Durant was victory certain for the Thunder. Miami’s Michael Beasley, a 6-10 forward out of Kansas State, led the heat in scoring with 24 points, with Mario Chalmers taking the second spot for the Heat at 13.
The action on the court was accented by the game day experience offered by the Thunder, which featured a huge inflatable pop-a-shot game in the grand lobby of the BOK Center. The Thunder’s mascot Rumble Bison entertained the crowd by doing some acrobatic slam dunks off a trampoline with the Thunderbolts extreme dunk team. Of course, the lovely Thunder Girls dance team performed several dance routines during time outs and between quarters.
Given all the 4th quarter heroics the crowd’s tepid reaction for most of the game was a bit disappointing. A lot of that could be attributed to the fact that the Thunder seemed to be spinning their wheels for the balance of the night but for most of the game the BOK Center crowd seemed to be sitting on it’s hands, barely reacting beyond a a few loud cheers when a Thunder player made a basket. It seemed out of character for basketball fans who have seen great success out of hometown college teams like the TU Golden Hurricane and the ORU Golden Eagles.
Thunder owner Clay Bennett attended the game, and has said that the Thunder will play an exhibition game in Tulsa every year. The victory tonight gives his team a 2-0 record in Tulsa, as last season the Thunder defeated the Houston Rockets in preseason exhibition action. Oklahoma City’s win brings them to 2-2 in the NBA preseason, and the regular season begins for the Thunder on October 28 against the Sacramento Kings in the Ford Center. Next exhibition game for the Thunder will be in Houston on October 19th against the Rockets. The Heat travel to Kansas City to play the New Orleans Hornets in the Sprint Center October 15th.
Photos: Kevin Pyle