You know Boston will not go gently against Heat in Game 3

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We have written the epitaph for the “big three” era in Boston too many times to be sure that this time is really the end.

If feels like it. The Heat are up 2-0 despite a monster game from Rajon Rondo in Game 2. If the more athletic Heat split the pair of games at the Boston Garden this weekend the series may end in Game 5. Then comes the Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett free agency and… maybe this is the end.

But these Celtics will not go gentle into that good night, Kevin Garnett has plenty of rage against the dying of the light.

For Boston to win they need real ball movement and some production out of their bench. And they are going to have to slow the game down and grind it out.

Boston put up good offensive numbers in Game 2 — 115.6 points per 100 possessions — but that was on the back of Rajon Rondo’s 44 points and 10 assists. Rondo is capable of another good game, but those kinds of monster games are the outliers for anyone. Miami is going to focus more on taking the ball out of Rondo’s hands, expect plenty of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on him. Rondo is going to need more help, and not just from Kevin Garnett in the post and a slowed Paul Pierce.

Which is why there needs to be better Celtics ball movement — Miami this series has overloaded the strong side where the ball is, which is kind of like using the Celtics’ own defensive style against them. Doing that exposes the backside of the defense, where the Heat can run actions and get the ball with crisp passing — but it has to be crisp because the athletic Heat rotate fast.

Boston has to get its shots close to the rim (and finish) plus keep knocking down jumpers — they hit 19 of 32 (59.4 percent) from 16 feet out to the arc in Game 2. They need all those points.

Then Boston needs to slow the game down, take away the transition points for the Heat, and get a win their way with defense. Their defensive rotations need to be a lot sharper. Boston’s defense was solid in Game 1 but struggled some in Game 2. Part of that is Miami hit 10 of 26 threes, and it’s fair to wonder if they can maintain that level of play.

Like Oklahoma City the night before Boston needs to come out at home desperate and with a real energy. However, after the overtime last game the Celtics starters are going to need more rest, which means the bench has to step up. Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling need to score, Greg Stiemsma needs to stay out of foul trouble. The Starters will need rest and the drop-off cannot be what it has been.

Still, you know Boston will play desperate, they will be physical, they will have their fans behind them. To them, this basically is a closeout game.

They will not go gently. But they still might go.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.

Report: Teams are calling Clippers about DeAndre Jordan trades

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Injuries have ravaged the Clippers. They started the season 4-0 have been without three starters from opening night: Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia injury, he is still in a walking boot), Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute), and now point guard Patrick Beverley is out for the season after microfracture surgery on his knee.

All this has led to the Clippers losing nine in a row before beating the Hawks Friday night. All the weight of the offense has fallen on Blake Griffin‘s shoulders, and while he’s been good most of the game in the fourth quarter his numbers have plummeted, and the Clippers have stumbled.

It’s left the Clippers with a couple of hard questions.

Do they need a coaching change? There was a sense from sources around the league that Rivers is already on his way out — he was stripped of GM/president powers over the summer — and what kept him around was the couple of seasons at $10 million a year on his contract. That’s a lot of money for an owner to eat, even Steve Ballmer, but the time may be coming as a way to shake up the team.

The other, what to do with DeAndre Jordan? They could not work out a contract extension with him (Jordan was acting as his own agent), and one of the league’s top traditional centers is a free agent next summer, but new head basketball guy Lawrence Frank said they want Jordan to be a “Clipper for life.” Does Jordan want to be a Clipper for life? Do the Clippers really want him back, and if so at what price? Does a Clipper franchise trying to get approvals for a new arena in Inglewood want to rebuild now, because it does not help that process? If it’s time to move on and rebuild, do they need to trade him now?

Teams are calling about Jordan, reports Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

DeAndre Jordan, who can become a free agent after the season, has been coming up in trade conversations, with multiple teams talking potential trades. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said last month that Jordan will be a “Clipper for life,” muddled matters, as does the limited number of teams who need a center and the size of Jordan’s contract ($22.6 million).

Jordan is an All-NBA center, a defensive force in the paint who sets a strong pick, rolls hard to the rim, can finish with the best of them, and is averaging 10.4 points (scoring and attempts are down without Chris Paul feeding him) and 13.4 rebounds a game. Jordan knows who he is and plays within himself.

It’s not hard to imagine how he could help teams such as Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee, and a host of others. The question is what would teams be willing to give up to get him — they have to send back salary to match, but will not want to give up assets that help them win now. The Clippers will be looking for good young players and picks back in the package, which makes it hard for a team such as Cleveland to put together a package.

But before they discuss trade scenarios, the Clippers need to figure out what they want to do. Life has come at them fast this season and led to a lot of big-picture questions that Frank and Ballmer need to answer.