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Referees Bill Kennedy and Olandis Poole jumped into the fray, making sure players didn't go at one another. Heat President Pat Riley got out of his seat three rows from the court and took a long look at the scene, while normally mild-mannered Miami assistant coach Bob McAdoo had some choice words for anyone who would listen. The end result was a flagrant-1 for Westbrook. James swished a jumper as time in the half expired, and Miami led 50-49.
The Heat closed the half on a 23-11 run.
"Playoff basketball," James said at halftime in a TV interview. "I know Russ. I don't think he's a dirty player."
He's right -- it certainly did have a playoff feel.
Even new Jets quarterback Tim Tebow -- who James raves about -- was taking notice of the level of play.
"Don't know who's gonna win," Tebow tweeted in the third quarter, "but KingJames isn't playing around."
Neither were the Thunder.
As soon as the Heat went up by nine late in the third, their biggest lead to that point, the Thunder came back with a 10-0 run to reclaim the lead. Durant started the burst with a 12-footer with 3 seconds left in the quarter, then Oklahoma City scored the first eight of the fourth to go back on top 81-80.
By that point, it was clear this one was going to the wire.
NOTES: Word that Wade would play -- he missed Tuesday's game against Philadelphia with a bruised left knee -- came down about 45 minutes before tip-off. ... NFL stars Julius Peppers and Jeremy Shockey were part of the sold-out crowd, as was actor Michael Douglas for the second straight night. ... About 57,000 people went to a pair of sold-out sports events three miles apart in Miami on Wednesday night, with Heat-Thunder going on not far from the first official baseball game in the history of Marlins Park. ... Thunder guard Derek Fisher and Heat guard James Jones -- both NBPA officers who spent much of the offseason dealing with the lockout -- exchanged greetings at halftime.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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