NBA starts the year off doing what they love: fining people

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The NBA today fined Paul Pierce $15,000 for throwing his headband (UPDATE: possibly gum -insert dramatic music) into the stands during the first quarter of the Celtics’ win over the Pacers last Tuesday.

Stop.

Think about that for a second. Think about every time you’ve carelessly tossed an object. Now imagine that when you did so, someone fined you $15,000. The cost of your average semester of college at a public university. For throwing a headband.

This is an absurd world in which we operate.

In other news, the league fined Stan Van Gundy $35,000 for his comments regarding Dwight Howard and the way officials are “targeting” him. So Stan Van Gundy used his vocal chords, and now has to pay the NBA the cost of a luxury motor vehicle.

How is the NBA losing money, again?

Pierce has not had a great week. He struggled in the fourth quarter of the Christmas Day game. He tossed his headband and was subsequently fined for it on Tuesday. He fumbled his dribble attempting the game-tying shot against the Hornets at home Friday afternoon. Two failed clutch performances and a $15,000 speeding ticket. Happy New Year, Paul!

For Van Gundy, he knew this was coming. In his own way, Van Gundy probably feels this is the price of doing business, that he’ll be able to influence the officials the same way Phil Jackson does. Unfortunately, Jackson occupies a very specific and limited range in the cultural landscape of the league, and while he’s fined just the same, his words carry more weight. Probably because he’s won 11 championships and doesn’t scream all the time.

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.)