Basketball

Durant leads surprising OKC

MIAMI - With plenty of good seats still available around the end of the first quarter, the Miami Heat gave some upper-deck fans a rare chance to move into the lower level.

If nothing else, they got a better look at Kevin Durant and the much-improved Oklahoma City Thunder.

Durant had 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Russell Westbrook finished with 24 points and seven assists and the Thunder added to its surprising start by beating the Heat 100-87 on Tuesday night.

An early 20-1 run put the Thunder in control, and a 14-2 burst in the third quarter helped seal it.

“They outplayed us with their athleticism, with their length, with their effort, with their energy, all those areas,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They just brought more of it.”

The Thunder got off to a 6-32 start last year. Now, it’s 6-5.

“We wanted to start off playing basketball that our fans could be proud of,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We are creating an identity of playing winning basketball.”

Jeff Green scored 13 for Oklahoma City, which got 10 points apiece from Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic.

Dwyane Wade had 22 points on 6-of-19 shooting and Daequan Cook scored 14 of his 17 in the fourth quarter for Miami.

Jermaine O’Neal collected 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, which visits Atlanta today for the first time since the Hawks beat Miami in Game 7 of last season’s Eastern Conference opening-round series.

Westbrook’s 3-pointer with 6:40 left might have been the biggest blow, considering it came after he lost the dribble, while being closely guarded by Mario Chalmers and with the shot clock running down. He swished it anyway, putting Oklahoma City up 87-72.

“We’re getting better every game,” Westbrook said.

1 SURGERY FOR NELSON Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson will have arthroscopic surgery today on torn cartilage in his left knee, the team said. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.

2 WARRIORS DRESS EIGHT The Warriors, ravaged by injuries and illness, dressed the league minimum eight players against the Cavaliers, including newly acquired guard Raja Bell, who is expected to have wrist surgery next week.

3 KNICKS CONSIDERING IVERSON After twice bypassing on acquiring Allen Iverson over the past year, Knicks president Donnie Walsh is now willing to “talk about it” as an option for his desperate team. Iverson is on the market again after the Memphis Grizzlies waived him Tuesday night. He is eligible to be signed Thursday night.

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