Back and forth they went in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, with the Miami Heat finally pulling out a 91-85 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Here's a list of some of the talking points from Sunday night, including perhaps the most gentlemanly display of trash talk in finals history, how free throws aren't free and why Shane Battier keeps making the most of his first taste of the title series.
LEBRON'S FINISHES: These are officially a better NBA Finals — at least in terms of fourth quarters — for LeBron James. The reigning NBA MVP scored 18 points in the six fourth quarters in last year's finals against Dallas. He's up to 21 points already in these finals, and his three-point play that started when he drove through Kevin Durant for a layup with 3:47 left was one of the signature plays of Miami's win in Game 3. Consider this, too: James already has 91 points and 31 rebounds in this series. He had 107 points and 43 rebounds in the six games against the Mavericks a year ago. "Just a totally different player," marveled Heat teammate Dwyane Wade. (Side note: James did see his streak of 30-point playoff games end at five. He only had 29.)
TOO SMALL?: Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant is listed at 6-foot-9 and he's probably taller. Miami's Dwyane Wade is listed at 6-4 and he's probably shorter. So when Durant scored over Wade in the first half of Game 3 on Sunday night, the Thunder star and NBA scoring champion said "You're too small." Wade caught up with him a few steps later and asked him to repeat that, just to make sure he heard correctly. It's not like Wade was embarrassed about it, or even denied the claim. "He's got 7 inches on me," Wade said. But really, is that the level of trash talk in this series? Somewhere, the Bad Boy Pistons are probably laughing.
FREE THROWS: For much of the postseason, it was the Heat who were criticized for missing too many free throws. And throughout this season, the Thunder were the best foul-shooting team in the NBA. In Game 3, turnabout was fair play for Miami. The Heat were 22 of 24 from the line in the second half, 31 of 35 for the game. Oklahoma City shot 15 for 24 on the night, and Kevin Durant took only four attempts from the line to match his low for this postseason. The Thunder finished the night shooting 62.5 percent from the line — and yes, they're now 0-4 when shooting below 64 percent from the line this season.
BATTIER WATCH: The Shane Battier Finals Tour continued, with the Heat guard making both of his tries from 3-point range in Game 3. He's now shooting 11 for 15 from long range in the finals. By comparison, the Thunder have seven more 3-pointers than Battier in these finals — on 46 more attempts. "I'm just letting it fly," Battier said.
SO WHAT NOW?: The Thunder simply channel their inner Dallas Maverick now. Down 2-1 in the finals against the Heat, the Mavericks pulled off a comeback to win the title last year. So Oklahoma City knows it can be done. ("Well, we don't want that," Heat guard Dwyane Wade deadpanned.) The Thunder were in a more precarious spot in the Western Conference finals, falling behind 2-0 to San Antonio. The Spurs, of course, finished the season with four straight losses. That's what Scott Brooks will sell his team on during its film session on Monday. No, the Thunder aren't in great shape. But they've faced plenty of trouble already in these playoffs, and they're still here.