With smile on his face, Cuban fires back at Deron Williams

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Mark Cuban loves this kind of through-the-media banter. Just ask Phil Jackson. Or Shaq. Or a host of others. Cuban is very good at saying something with a smile on his face but with a knife in his hands.

So when Deron Williams fired a shot at Mark Cuban saying the fact Cuban was off filming “Shark Tank” on the day Williams met with the Mavs sealed the deal he was going to the Nets, you knew Cuban would eventually fire back.

And he did, speaking to the media in Barcelona where his Mavs were about to lose a preseason game to FC Barcelona, via the Dallas Morning News.

“I’m a big D-Will fan, but I’m kind of surprised that he would throw his front office under the bus like that by saying that I would make a difference,’’ Cuban said before the Mavericks’ exhibition game against FC Barcelona Regal. “I would have expected him to say – like I’d expect one of our guys to say – ‘Hey I’m so thrilled with the front office and the moves we made and our team that it wouldn’t have mattered what he did.’…

“He’s a superstar point guard, but my goal is to build a team. That’s the important thing, to try to win championships.

“I’m flattered that he thought my presence would have made more of a difference than what the Nets’ management did.’’

Nice.

To be clear, Cuban could have been there and brought Kate Hudson to pour glasses of Cristal and D-Will still probably would have chosen the Nets. That is where he was leaning. And he saw what the Nets were doing and heard what their long-term plans were. (Apparently those plans were to go over the cap and lock themselves into basically this roster for years, but it’s a plan.)

What Williams said was he had questions about the long-range plans in Dallas that GM Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle couldn’t satisfactorily answer. Sounds to me like Williams really threw those two under the bus.

And of course, if you are building a team, step one is to get a couple of superstars together, like Williams and, oh, I don’t know, maybe… Dirk Nowitizki? Someone like that.

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.)