Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cornered Thunder hard to call dead

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MIAMI -- Down 3-1 in the NBA Finals, history says the Oklahoma City Thunder aren't coming back.

Nobody has ever rallied from that deficit in the finals. Then again, few have erased a 2-0 deficit in any playoff series, and the Thunder did that just one round ago when they charged past the San Antonio Spurs.

So don't write off the Thunder just yet.

"We didn't get here just to make it here and say we made it to the finals. We want to come in here and we want to try to get a title," Kevin Durant said Wednesday. "It's all about, keep competing until that last buzzer sounds and that's what we're going to do. That's the type of city we play for, a city that never gives up. That's the type of team we are."

The Miami Heat can wrap up their second NBA title with a victory tonight in Game 5. If the Thunder win, they would get the series back to Oklahoma City, where they are 9-1 this post-season.

"We're not going to give up," Durant said, though his quiet tone sounded more hopeful than defiant. "We're going to keep fighting to the end and hopefully we can take this thing back to the crib."

That became a little tougher after James Harden bruised his left hand during the Thunder's 104-98 loss on Tuesday. Already struggling through two miserable games in Miami, Harden sat out a portion of practice Wednesday to ice the hand but is expected to play Thursday.

The NBA's Sixth Man of the Year has shot two of 10 in both games in Miami, falling to 13 for 37 (35 per cent) in the series. He is averaging 10.8 points, six below his regular-season average.

"It's definitely frustrating when those shots get open and don't go in, but you've got to continue to play," Harden said. "Especially for a player like me, I rely on more than just shooting, on just scoring the basketball. Obviously that aspect of my game has to be picked up in order for us to win games."

"If we miss a few shots, so what? We're going to keep going back to them. That's what teammates do," Durant said. "But I have faith in my teammates no matter what. I never think it's too late."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2012 C11

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