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Durant’s Thunder strikes Heat

JAMES-DURANTMIAMI, January 30 – LeBron James won the last two MVP awards but his grip on the trophy could be slipping after Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder dominated the Miami Heat 112-95 Wednesday.

Durant, who has finished second to James in MVP voting three times in his career, scored 33 points to stretch his 30-or-more points streak to a dozen contests.

Durant said he looks forward to these contests against the two-time defending champion Heat and he’s not taking anything for granted.

“It could be my last game every time I step on the floor so I got to give it my all,” the 25-year old Durant said. “He’s (James) a great competitor and I love playing against him.”

James finished with a game-high 34 points in front of a crowd of 19,673 at AmericanAirlines Arena but it wasn’t enough to give the Heat their fourth straight win at home.

“They beat us pretty good. From the second quarter on they did what they wanted to do,” James said.

This was a rematch of the 2011-2012 NBA finals and the Thunder and Heat remain two of the best teams in the league, but it didn’t live up to the pre-game hype.

Durant shot 12-of-23 from the floor and added seven rebounds and five assists for the Thunder, who have won nine straight games.

Miami stormed out to a huge lead in the opening minutes, but the Thunder outscored them 110-77 the rest of the way.

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“We were down 22-4 and could easily have folded it up, especially because we are on the road. But we moved the basketball, got some good looks and made some shots,” Durant said.

Durant has carried the Thunder on his back during the latest win streak. On Monday, he scored 41 against the Atlanta Hawks, including the winning jumper with less than two seconds left.

His 30 or more points in 12 straight games is the longest streak of its kind since Tracy McGrady did it in 14 consecutive contests in March-April 2003.

Oklahoma’s Serge Ibaka nailed a jump shot for the opening points, but the Heat answered with a 18-0 surge.

The Heat compiled a 22-4 lead before the Thunder responded with 12 straight points. Durant had a three-point play and hit a pair of free throws to cut the Heat’s lead to 22-16.

The Thunder continued to roll, taking the lead halfway through the second quarter. Durant finished off a 9-0 surge when he grabbed a Reggie Jackson’s pass for a reverse layup that gave the Thunder a 46-44 lead.

“They were ready for us,” Durant said. “They hit some tough shots early on, a few threes, and we didn’t panic. We just tried to stay together and that’s what we did.”

Durant finished with 16 points in the first half.

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