Report: NBA, union near deal to allow HGH testing

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The NBA needs to be testing for human growth hormone. Ask around the league and the first response of most people is that performance-enhancing drugs are not an issue in the NBA. I tend to be skeptical the league is that clean. But if it is or isn’t, there has to be testing.

And there will be soon, reports Henry Abbot at ESPN.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are close to an agreement to test players’ blood for human growth hormone (HGH), according to sources with direct knowledge of the talks. Testing could begin as soon as the 2013-14 season.

David Stern has said before he expected HGH blood testing of players to happen within the next year.

Of course, the NBA has banned HGH for years, the problem has been it’s a blood test (nobody likes having blood drawn) and there were questions of the test’s reliability. But that is changing and putting pressure on the league to change, Abbott said.

But those concerns have eroded lately, sources say, with a frenzy of progress in talks between the league and union. A decisive factor: Major League Baseball and its respected union have agreed to blood tests for HGH, weakening the basketball union’s claims that the test was unreliable or that blood testing is too invasive.

Part of the challenge in getting this put together is former players union head Billy Hunter has been suspended, is expected to sue the league, and no replacement has been found. The union is a bit of a mess right now.

There are details to be worked out — is this blood test in addition to or replacing one of the six random urine tests players take a year? Will the test look just for HGH or other things as well?

The conventional wisdom has long been that steroids and PEDs are not prevalent in the NBA because being muscle-bound is not a real advantage. I don’t buy it — what HGH or designer steroids can do is help with recovery, and that is something NBA players could use. To bounce back quicker after a workout, or during the long seasons with four games in five nights at times, speeding recovery would be huge.

And frankly, there are people that will break the rules to get a shot at the money, fame and perks of an NBA lifestyle. To think some wouldn’t cross that line seems naïve to me.

Hopefully the testing will show I’m wrong, or at least expose the wrongdoers.

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.)