James leads Heat past Thunder in finals rematch

Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:16pm EST
 

(Reuters) - LeBron James scored 29 points and flirted with a triple-double as the Miami Heat claimed a 103-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in a rematch of last season's NBA finals on a Christmas Day schedule of five games.

The Thunder, the NBA's top team and the Heat, the Eastern Conference leaders clashed in a physical contest that was thick with playoff intensity.

"We're two teams that have the same aspirations and that's to try and win a championship," James told reporters after the game. "Both teams are not going to short cut anything and just try to get better each and every day.

"It was good fight by both teams."

James added nine assists and eight rebounds to go along with his 29 points while Dwyane Wade had 21 and Mario Chalmers contributed a season-high 20 as the Heat stretched their winning streak to five games.

The Thunder received a 33-point effort from Kevin Durant while Russell Westbrook had 21 but both missed potential game-tying three pointers in the dying seconds.

Led by a 34-point performance from the NBA's leading scorer Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers also extended their winning run to a season-high five games getting their record back to .500 (14-14) with a 100-94 win over the Knicks.

Playing in his record 15th Christmas Day game, Bryant passed Oscar Robertson as the NBA's all-time Christmas Day scorer with 383 points.

Steve Nash, playing his second game after missing nearly two months with a broken leg, was quickly back in stride hitting for 16 points while making 11 assists and grabbing six rebounds.   Continued...

 
Miami Heat's LeBron James (L) is congratulated by recording artist Gladys Knight (R) following their NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Miami, Florida, December 25, 2012. REUTERS/Rhona Wise