‘Melo vs. Garnett sideshow is dull, Knicks’ hard-fought win is not

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Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett played nice. In fact, in the third quarter Garnett went to the floor trying to complete an alley-oop and it was Anthony who was there to lend a hand and help him back up. There were no fireworks, no ejections, nothing. They may not be going out for a beer together afterwards, but the sideshow turned out to be nothing special.

But the game itself was special. Or at least a lot of fun.

If Rasheed Wallace were there with New York, he would have said “both teams played hard.” There was nearly the passion of a playoff game from both teams.

The Knicks just played a little less sloppy and hit their shots down the stretch, so they came away with an 89-86 win.

That would be five straight losses for the Celtics, who drop two games below .500 but remain the eighth seed in the East. The second seed Knicks improved to 26-14 on the season.

Anthony got his points but the improved Celtics defense made it rough on him — ‘Melo had 28 points but was just 11-of-28 shooting on the night. Without Raymond Felton (still out with a broken finger) the Knicks end up resorting to a lot more ‘Melo isolation late in the clock and that is just never efficient. Wasn’t in Denver, wasn’t last season, isn’t now. The Celtics defense as a whole looked active and energetic, holding New York to 38.6 percent shooting.

Their offense just couldn’t do anything about it.

Rajon Rondo is trying to get the offense moving, and he had 23 points (on 19 shots), 11 assists and 10 rebounds — his fourth triple-double of the season. But take him out of the equation and the rest of the Celtics shot 36.8 percent. Rondo is the straw that stirs the Celtics drink, but there is only so much he can do to bring everyone along.

Look at their possessions in the final four minutes and you see how it is all Rondo: Rondo hits an elbow pull up jumper; Rondo drove and drew a foul from Amare Stoudemire; Paul Pierce passes up good look 18 footer to tie it instead passing to Avery Bradley for a corner three he missed; Garnett misses a contested midrange jumper; J.R. Smith reaches in and tips the ball on a handoff to Rondo and it goes out of bounds off Boston; Rondo nails a step-back 17 footer; Pierce boots the ball out of bounds as he is hounded by Smith.

Smith also had a key three late. It was a true gunner’s shot — he was 2-of-15 on the night when he caught the ball but he let it go without hesitation or memory of the past misses and he drained it.

This was the kind of ugly, defensive-minded game the Celtics won in recent years. Their defense would carry them through their offensive lulls. This year it’s just not working, the offensive lulls are too long, the defense isn’t consistent enough.

The Knicks, they are winning ugly. And in a game that felt like the playoffs they will take it.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

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Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.

Rumor: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving met in Miami

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LeBron James denied wanting to fight Kyrie Irving, but wanting to meet with his for-now Cavaliers co-star? That might be another story. Likewise, Irving – in light of his trade request – might not be eager to meet with LeBron.

But…

Tony Rizzo of ESPN Cleveland, as transcribed by Jackson Flickinger of King James Gospel:

“From very reliable sources. Plural. Kyrie and LeBron were in the same room over the weekend in Florida…Apparently these guys were in the same room and here’s the deal. I don’t know if there’s a thawing out process. All I do know is LeBron didn’t punch Kyrie the way Stephen A thought he would. I can report that. As for what they talked about or discussed…it was very cool. They didn’t get into any heated discussions.”

Did LeBron and Irving actually meet? Both were spotted in Miami, but maybe someone is just connecting dots that don’t belong connected.

Whether or not LeBron and Irving met, they might need to soon. Cleveland will have a tough time getting its desired return for Irving before the season, and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert discussed the possibility of Irving returning. LeBron isn’t getting traded.

No matter the disconnect between the two, LeBron and Irving might have to figure out how to work together a while longer. It’d be nice if that process has already begun.

Are Bulls and Dwyane Wade moving toward a buyout?

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About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.

Have the two sides progressed since?

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.

Expected by whom?

People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?

Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?

For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.

A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.

LeBron James’ camp already shooting down leaving-Cavaliers rumor

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LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers

Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.