Report: Trail Blazers trying to land traditional center, target Pekovic, Splitter

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LaMarcus Aldridge is a four. A big four, an All-Star four, but he has been forced to play a lot of five — a lot of center — over the course of his career and that can be hit and miss for him.

So the trail Blazers are targeting a real center this off-season to move Aldridge to his natural spot and give them some depth along the front line.

To do that, they are targeting some restricted free agents (meaning their current teams can match any offer), reports John Canzano at the Oregonian.

A league source said on Monday that the Blazers, who hold the No. 10 pick in the first round, have interest in two restricted free-agent centers: San Antonio’s Tiago Splitter and Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic. This comes after a trade-proposal report that would have the Blazers trading their lottery pick to Phoenix for center Marcin Gortat.

In the long run, Meyers Leonard may be the center the Blazers hope for, but he’s not there yet. He’s a backup right now.

The problem with the two free agents listed is that to get a restricted free agent away from a team — particularly a team that wants to keep him, like the Wolves want Pekovic and the Spurs want Splitter — is you have to make an offer large enough for the other team not to match. You have to overpay. And that doesn’t always help you in the long run.

But you can see what the Blazers are thinking — they want a big man this summer and will spend to get one.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

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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.)

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.