Is NBA’s new crackdown on gestures robbing game of emotion?

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In one scenario, Kobe Bryant drives the lane and draws contact but no whistle is blown, so throws up his hands in disgust, says something to the referee and trails the play back up the court so he can glare at the ref.

In another scenario, Kobe drives the lane and draws contact and a foul is called on Chauncey Billups as the defender, who throws his arms up in disgust but walks away without talking to the ref; he just moves away, refocuses and gets ready to go on.

Under the NBA’s new crackdown, both of those reactions get a technical foul. Both players made a gesture.

NBA players are not thrilled, and after meeting with NBA officials about the crackdown a couple Nuggets spoke to the Denver post about it.

After Monday’s practice, Billups first gestured as if he didn’t want to discuss the issue. But then, asked if emotions are hard to keep in check, the Nuggets veteran said: “(They’re) impossible to keep in check. It’s an emotional game, and it’s impossible to not show emotion playing basketball. Shoot, it’s impossible to do playing golf. And that’s no physical contact at all, no referees, nothing. It’s tough.”

Forward Carmelo Anthony joked: “I’m not going to say nothing (to referees during games)…. You’re going to have guys who get emotional during the game, clap their hands, yell and scream. As long as they do that in a professional way, I don’t think that should be a tech, but we can’t do that anymore.… From what we’ve seen (with the new crackdown), we can’t have that much emotion.”

As tends to happen when the NBA does this every few years (much like crackdowns on other rules), there will be a lot of early-season technicals as referees enforce the letter of the law and players try to adjust. But the referees will slip back over time, and the players will make a little step to be less demonstrative.

You can rest assured that this will come up again the first time a tech is called that changes the end of a game — when players should be emotional and passionate. There will be a backlash.

But we need to have this crackdown… because some focus groups said so.

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.)