Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak sticks up for boss Jim Buss

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When somebody asks you how your boss is doing, what exactly are you going to say?

True or not there is only one answer and it’s the one Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak gave it when he sat down with the Los Angeles Times for a lengthy interview.

Jim Buss has become the guy Lakers fans like to blame for shaking up a contending team (which may have some validity). Kupchak’s point: Jim Buss is not new in the Lakers front office. He has been helping the team make decisions for years.

“Jim gets way too much criticism and not enough credit with the success this team has had,” Kupchak said. . “He is following in the footsteps of the most successful owner maybe of all time, which is hard to do. But since he’s gotten more and more involved, which has been about seven or eight years, we’ve had some pretty good moments.”

Buss was responsible for the Lakers’ ill-fated hiring of Coach Rudy Tomjanovich in 2004, but he also helped nudge the team into drafting Andrew Bynum in 2005. It’s too early to tell the results of Buss’ latest decision, hiring Mike Brown to succeed Phil Jackson, even though Kupchak and Jerry Buss claimed they also agreed with it.

There have been whispers (from good sources) that Kupchak is unhappy with his current working situation and may bolt for another team at the start of the year.

Maybe and maybe not, but Kupchak has always been about loyalty to the Lakers and the Buss family. He is the ultimate company man who would not step out of line and badmouth the team or organization in public. Not his style — he is old school that way. Which is a good thing.

But knowing that, what did you expect him to say about his boss?

As for Jim Buss, he will ultimately be judged against his father’s legacy, which may be unfair but is the reality.

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.)