Fantastic read looks at contradictions that make up Popovich

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Gregg Popovich is simply the best coach in basketball.

But he comes with inherent contradictions — he is both the curmudgeonly guy who has no use for Craig Sager between quarters and the guy players love and would run through a wall for. He is the guy who was perfectly happy coaching at no-scholarship, below D-III Pomona-Pitzer (where he recruited current lead assistant Mike Budenholzer) and the guy who is the head coach of the amazing Spurs dynasty.

If you read one thing today, it should be the fantastic Popovich profile by Joe Posnanski here at NBCSports.com. (If you think I’m promoting this just because I want to make my bosses happy, you don’t know me very well.)

Posnanski gets into all of it.

“Pop is first and foremost, a salt-of-the-earth good guy,” says Danny Ferry, who played for Pop, worked with Pop and is now GM of the Atlanta Hawks.

Yes, it begins there. People just like Pop. They can’t help it. Announcers who get little access and information still like Pop. Reporters he crushes with sarcasm still like Pop. Players he screams at or cuts down with biting remarks still like Pop. It is uncanny. “He has the best demeanor of any coach,” Kansas coach Bill Self says in deep admiration. “The absolute best.”

In a world of snippets of information without context, Posnanski is an antidote with fantastic long profiles and storytelling.

Trust me, just go read the whole thing. You’ll be happy you did. (And you can make my bosses happier in the process.)

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.)