The Thunder reached the NBA Finals by winning four consecutive games over the San Antonio Spurs. Oklahoma City exits the championship round with a four-game streak in the opposite direction.
After taking the first game against the Heat, Oklahoma City never won again. The series ended with the Miami Heat celebrating its second franchise title -- and LeBron James' first -- after a 121-106 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Thunder spent virtually all of Thursday night playing from behind, ending any hopes of taking the series back to Oklahoma City. It was a bitter pill to swallow for a close-knit Thunder team that knocked off three heavyweights -- the Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs -- to win the Western Conference title.
"It hurts. It hurts, man," Kevin Durant said. "We're all brothers on this team, and it just hurts to go out like this. We made it to the Finals, which was cool for us, but we didn't want to just make it there.
"Unfortunately we lost, so it's tough. It's tough, man. That's the only way I can explain it. But as a whole, I'm proud of the guys on how we fought all season. During the lockout, we came together as a group and worked hard, and we will continue to work hard."
That work has been ongoing since the franchise relocated from Seattle. After going 23-59, the Thunder responded with three consecutive playoff trips. Each postseason has been longer, culminating with a spot on the NBA's biggest stage.
Even though Oklahoma City didn't win the ultimate prize, it's a franchise that goes into next season as the West favorite and a legitimate title contender.
"I just told the guys, we didn't win a championship this year, but they gave it a championship effort all season long," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "It's something I'm proud of. I love our guys. I love what they're about. They're winners. Unfortunately we didn't accomplish our goal of winning the championship, but I thought we gave great effort all year long to put us in this position."