Report: Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson serious candidate for Nets job

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When Rockets coach Kevin McHale took time away from the Rockets to be with his family and his ailing daughter (who passed away), Kelvin Sampson did a good job as coach in tough circumstances. The Rockets started to find their identity with him as coach and while they went just 7-6 with him in the big chair they have played better lately and are now 16-12 on the season).

People noticed, including people in the front office of the Nets, who are looking for a coach after firing Avery Johnson.

Sampson has become a serious candidate early on for the Nets job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (as well as the NBC Sports Network).

Houston Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson has emerged as a significant candidate for the Brooklyn Nets’ head-coaching job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports…

Nets general manager Billy King is intrigued with Sampson, among other candidates, and is expected to eventually speak with him, sources said.

Sampson is not the big, sexy name owner Mikhail Prokhorov reportedly wants — that would likely be Phil Jackson. Or maybe Stan Van Gundy or Nate McMillan. A number of them will get calls as well.

But coaches who can pick and choose jobs may look at that Nets roster and be hesitant (the Nets are pretty locked into the Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez combo for years to come). But Sampson might be different, can connect with players and likely would do well in the role.

All reports are that the Nets are not going to rush this process, rather they will take their time in making a choice. But Sampson’s name seems to be in that mix.

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.)