Cuban believes this year’s Mavs are better than last year’s

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Mark Cuban felt the heat after he let Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson go. Brining in Lamar Odom has not worked out as planned and Dallas got off to a rocky 8-7 start after two heartbreaking losses in Los Angeles (veterans Derek Fisher and Chauncey Billups did them with game winners on back-to-back nights).

But Cuban isn’t worried.

He was interviewed by ESPN, something shown before the Mavs tilt with the Clippers Wednesday, and the Star Telegram has the translation (via SLAM).

Basically, he is selling patience.

“We’ve just got to make the playoffs, that’s all I really care about. Honestly, I was telling people if we’re 10-10 I’ll be thrilled to death. And if we were 5-15, I wouldn’t have been shocked, because you can’t just walk into a season and be ready, particularly if you’re a team that bases its defense on precision and team defense, and its offense off ball movement.

“If you’re young, your legs are always in shape, and if you’re an athlete, and you just run by people and jump over people. I think that’s why you saw the more athletic teams get off to great starts and the more ‘team’ teams struggle a little bit.

“I’m always win now, but you don’t destroy the future. I think you can do both, and that’s what we’ve tried to do.

“Yeah, we’ve lost some great players, and yet at the same time we kept a lot of good players, we kept Dirk (Nowitzki), JKidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, so we lost … but kept basically our top four. So by adding Vince Carter, by adding Lamar Odom, by adding Delonte West, I think literally we can be, I think we are a better team.”

He has to say that. What is he going to say? The man has a product to sell.

I think he makes some valid points. This is a team that will get better as the year goes on, and we’ve already started to see this. Dallas is playing better defense than last year but their offense has struggled. That will change. They will make the playoffs and be a tough out.

But by the second round, the lack of Tyson Chandler in the paint will come back to haunt them. This team is not better, especially when looking at playoff basketball.

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.)