Kobe Bryant tells LeBron’s critics to “back off”

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You can add Kobe Bryant to the list of LeBron James defenders.

In an interview with ESPN Sunday, Kobe — who has seen his share of fan and media criticism, and a few other people’s shares also, especially following the trade of Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers and the incident in Colorado — told people they should back off LeBron.

“I think people need to lay off that kid, that’s what I think. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well playing on the Olympic team, and I think they just need to back up off him and just let him play and let him live his life. Let him make his decisions, let him mature as a player.

“It’s tough to be under a microscope like that all the time. So I would like everyone to just back off him and let him play.”

That’s not going to happen by the way.

LeBron’s marketing scores have plummeted. The only way LeBron is turning that around is the Kobe model — win and lead your team to the wins. Not 60-plus regular season games either, we mean rings. That’s the only thing that changes his legacy.

Kobe gets that.

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.)