Pat Riley is not coming back, nor should he. So stop asking.

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Yes, the Miami Heat have some problems.

They have the surging Chicago Bulls ready to pass them for second in the East if the Bulls defeat the Heat Sunday in Miami. They have struggled against the league’s better teams and were embarrassingly lapped by the Spurs a few nights back. They are 14-17 against teams over .500. Their end of game execution has been sad.

Pat Riley is not the answer. Erik Spoelstra is not the problem (or at least the serious one).  Spoelstra’s defensive game plan did not say, “don’t close out on Spurs three-point shooters.” Question his end-of-game lineups if you want, but Spoelstra draws up plays that are not simply isolations to close out games.

The Heat’s problem right now are on the players not executing the plans they are given.

Riley has insisted since training camp he is done coaching and will not return to the bench. People around the team have said it would take a direct order from owner Micky Arison, and that is highly unlikely.

The other rumbling is that Riley doesn’t want to return to the bench with this team because he has known what Heat fans are learning the hard way now — this team is not yet ready to win a title. Not this season. It lacks a real inside presence on defense. It has little end-of-game comfort level among its stars. Things that will change over time, especially as Riley tweaks the roster. But right now, with this roster, there are question marks.

Pat Riley cannot just wave his championship-ring covered hand over this squad and solve those problems.

Michael Wallace at ESPN’s Heat Index reminds us that Riley had two very tough seasons on the bench after that 2006 title run. Frustrating seasons where the players tuned him out. One where they won 15 games. Those memories are inside his head next to the Heat title run season and make him question coming back.

Riley the coach would be cathartic to fans, as Wallace notes, but not the answer.

Riley has the professional credentials and personal fearlessness to call LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh out in public. He would get frustrated after a loss, go in to the post-game press conference and name names. He’d call the players out on a lack of effort and execution. He’d be a hard a–.

And it wouldn’t change anything. Right now, this Heat team’s cracks are showing. It does not look ready. And if that is to change it will come from the players, not a change of coaches.

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.)