Winderman: Don Nelson deserves Hall call

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NBA_nelson_250.jpgThe only way the snub could have been more cutting is if the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame selection committee came out Monday and announced why it did not select those snubbed from this year’s class.

As it is, basketball’s Hall has the most anonymous selection process of any of the major sports.

But don’t, for a second, think there isn’t a degree of politics involved.

The latter stages of Don Nelson’s career hardly have featured his best work. Disinterested is among the best of definitions. He has feuded with owners. He has humiliated veterans and rookies alike. At times, it seemingly only has been about the money.

But he also is now tied for the all-time lead in NBA coaching victories.

And isn’t victory the ultimate measure of the entire process?

Each of the other six winningest NBA coaches are in the Hall except Nellie, with Jerry Sloan making it last year.

Bill Fitch, seventh on the list, one spot ahead of Red Auerbach, isn’t, but that nasty .460 winning percentage does get in the way.

Certainly Nellie could have handled the politics far better. It never seems to end well, and it probably won’t this time, either, with the Warriors on the verge of an ownership shakeup.

But few have innovated to the degree of Nellie, be it the utilization of point forwards to the deployment of zone defenses long before the NBA came around to his thinking.

Yes, there was Manute Bol shooting 3-pointers. And, yes, there was the decision to minimize Patrick Ewing during the brief run in New York.

But if winning games doesn’t mean everything, then what does the Hall stand for?

And if longevity doesn’t factor heavily into the equation, then why the insistence on coaches having spent 25 years on the bench to be considered while still actively employed?

All we know is this: Don Nelson has coached more than twice as many NBA victories than Chucky Daly and nearly twice as many as Red Holzman, and they both are enshrined in Springfield.

Nellie’s resume won’t improve from here.

We likely are in the final days of seeing him on the sidelines.

Then, soon, it’ll be off, for good, to Hawaii, where he could wind up out of sight, out of mind.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)