Carmelo Anthony returns to Knicks lineup Monday vs. Nets

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If you’re going to ease Carmelo Anthony back into the new-look Knicks, this is the best way to do it — against the worst defense in the league.

Carmelo Anthony will be back with the Knicks in the starting lineup Monday against the Nets, the team announced. He will start (Iman Shumpert will come off the bench), and also expect Baron Davis to get some run at the point guard spot in this game.

The Knicks went 6-1 without Carmelo in the lineup (really 7-1 because he only played five minutes in a win over the Jazz). That is where Jeremy Lin has taken over, leading to the questions from some on how Anthony could fit in with a strong point guard. As if he didn’t do that with guys like Chauncey Billups, Ty Lawson and others in Denver all those years.

The emergence of Lin means Anthony no longer has to play the point-forward position, which should free him up to make more plays off the ball and exploit mismatches that come his way rather than have to get others involved.

Basically, ‘Melo likes to score and now he can focus on that.

The Nets should provide an easier way for ‘Melo to start, with the more serious challenges of the Hawks and Heat looming on the schedule before the All-Star break begins.

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.)