Kobe denies report of poor recruiting call with Howard

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We passed along the report over the weekend, one that cropped up in a couple places, that a conversation where Kobe Bryant tried to recruit Dwight Howard to Los Angeles turned off the center. That Kobe told Howard that the offensive options would be first Kobe, then Pau Gasol, then Howard. Which struck me as something Kobe is too savvy to say in recruiting a guy, but that was the rumor.

Peter Vecsey of the New York Post asked Kobe about it. And as you knew would happen, Kobe shot it down.

“omg! I’m not getting mixed up in this kiddy drama spit, bro. too old for that spit,” Bryant responded via email.

“How do you think I feel at my age having to chase down this stuff,” I answered. “I understand your position. But if it’s untrue, any of it, and allowed to circulate throughout the league, which already is happening, I would think you’d want to say it’s not.”

“It’s not true,” Kobe responded.

First off, you know Kobe didn’t use the word “spit.” Rhymes with “spit” but that’s not the word of choice.

Second, of course Kobe said this. Who knows what was actually said in a Kobe/Howard conversation, but what is Kobe going to say now? “Yes, I tried to scare him off.” Of course not.

Third, know that every rumor you hear about Howard is someone trying to spin the situation the direction they want it to go. This rumor had New Jersey as where Howard really wants to go, even though other rumors have said that the Nets had fallen because the team sucks this season and Howard doesn’t want to miss the playoffs (and even if he went there a lot of building is left to do). Everyone is trying to spin the story (and Howard) to where they want him to land.

The truth of the Dwight Howard situation is more about practicality and feasibility. The Magic may eventually come to their senses and decide to move him, but when they do it will be to the team that gives them the best offer. It will be about who takes on Hedo Turkoglu’s deal, too. If Orlando likes Andrew Bynum and assorted goods better than Brook Lopez and slightly better assorted goods, he’s going to Los Angeles. And Howard is going to suddenly sing the praises of wherever he gets sent.

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.)