Vinny del Negro already criticizing Baron Davis' conditioning

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nba_davis1.jpgThere is hope in Clipperland again. They could be pretty good, what with Blake Griffin healthy, surrounded by All-Star Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon (fresh off a fantastic World Championships), Randy Foye, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe, De Andre Jordan and more.

But there is one the thing that could quickly undermine the Clippers hopes — Baron Davis. (Well, two things, another catastrophic injury, but we wish that on nobody.)

So what are almost the first words out of new coach Vinny Del Negro’s mouth at media day? That he’s not happy with Davis’ conditioning, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

“Percentage-wise, I’d be guessing,” Del Negro said [of how far off Davis is]. “He’s put in a lot of work in the last month or so. He started a little bit later probably than he needed to. He’s in pretty good shape right now, but he’s not where he needs to be. He knows that.

“Obviously, you want everybody in perfect condition. You have to come in training camp in shape. And the job in training camp is to get into better shape.”

The Clippers told Davis this was going to the media, and the fact they were up front about it is a good sign that the organization is not codling its star.

For all the things Del Negro needs to do to turn the Clippers around, getting Baron Davis on board — or getting permission to bench him and play rookie Eric Bledsoe more — is at the top of the list. When he’s into it, Davis is still one of the most dynamic point guards in the league.

When he’s not, he’s an anchor on the franchise. And lately, he’s mostly been an anchor. Del Negro has to reach him, has to get him running, passing and setting up the offense, not just jacking up contested threes early in the shot clock.

With a focused Davis, the Clippers are pretty good. With the unfocused Davis, they’re the Clippers. We don’t envy Del Negro’s task.

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.)