Bledsoe, Thompson, lots of young stars idolize Vince Carter

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HOUSTON — When NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest participant Eric Bledsoe was asked about his favorite dunk contest dunk he didn’t hesitate.

“I think that dunk contest where Vince Carter did the 360,” Bledsoe said.

That same answer came up over and over with young players — to them the legend of Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins dunks were something they saw on YouTube. Vince Carter was the guy they grew up watching and being amazed by.

“To be honest, I don’t think nobody here (in the BBVA Rising Stars challenge, the rookie/sophomore game) saw Michael like that because we were all born in the 1990s,” said Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson. “We were too young to watch him on TV.

“For me personally it was Vince Carter, me being from Toronto, Canada. Vinsanity was my Michael Jordan. I looked up to him.”

And as it was for Kobe Bryant growing up idolizing Jordan and then getting to play against him, Thompson and this generation now get to face and older but still dangerous Carter on the court, just now with the Mavericks.

Thompson has a special connection with his idol.

“I actually went to his camp when I was younger, so he remembered me from when I was in ninth grade,” Thompson said. “So he and I chit-chatted and had a couple jokes. But Vince was one of the great players for (Toronto) and one of the great players of this league.”

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.)