Rockets owner "very confident" Yao Ming returns next season

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NBA_ming.jpgYao Ming wants to be back. During the time of year virtually every other NBA player has his feet up relaxing, taking some time off from the grind, he is at the Rockets facility daily busting it on the court.

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander watched him work out then told Jonathan Feigen he was “very confident” Yao would be a Rocket next season.

“I just saw him practicing,” Alexander added. “He looks great. He lost a lot of weight. He’s practicing hard. He is able to do what he wants to do. He looks like he’s in great health, which is the best you can ask for. I think Yao looks great.”

Yao can opt out of his deal before July 1 and become a free agent, but nobody expects him to play anywhere but Houston next season. The two sides have been negotiating, with the stumbling block having been years not money. Would you commit six years to a center coming off an injury?

With Yao back, the Rockets become very good  very fast. They have a lightning quick back court with Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin, they have a great group of role players led by Shane Battier, and they would have the best center in the game back in the paint. With the decline of he Spurs and the Suns losing Amare Stoudemire to free agency (maybe), the Rockets could suddenly be the second best team in the West.

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.)