Spurs’ R.C. Buford wins Executive of the Year

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How has Gregg Popovich won only one Coach of the Year award? How has R.C. Buford never won Executive of the Year?

Consider those perceived Spurs-related slights fixed and fixed.

After Popovich earned his second Coach of the Year in the last three seasons (bringing his total to three), longtime Spurs general manager Buford won the 2013-14 Executive of the Year.

Consider this a lifetime achievement award. Buford’s key moves in the last year – signing Marco Belinelli, re-signing Manu Ginobili, re-signing Tiago Splitter, drafting Livio Jean-Charles – are pedestrian relative to Buford’s years of team-building.

Seventeen general managers – most of the league – received votes, and 11 received first-place votes. That parity created an opening for Buford to win in a season his biggest accomplishment was keeping in tact everything he’d assembled previously.

I feel bad for the Suns’ Ryan McDonough, who was my choice for the honor and finished second. In his first year on the job, he made the Suns better in the short term and set them up beautifully for the long term by acquiring multiple first-round picks. I believe he did the best job this year, which is what the award is literally supposed to honor. It’s just bad luck to do so in a year voters – the NBA’s 30 top executives themselves – decide to honor someone’s entire career.

But in that sense, the whole award is a little silly. Being a good general manger requires long-term strategizing, and good moves often don’t reveal themselves in the year they occur. Maybe they should hand out this award each year based on the previous five seasons. That would at least more accurately reflect the job these executives are doing.

Buford is one of the NBA’s best – maybe even the best – general manager, and he deserves some type of recognition for that. The 2013-14 Executive of the Year probably isn’t the most appropriate choice, but it’s all there is to give, and in that sense, it’s well-earned.

Full voting (first-, second-, third-place votes, total points)

1. R.C. Buford, San Antonio (9-3-4-58)

2. Ryan McDonough, Phoenix (5-6-4-47)

3. Neil Olshey, Portland (5-2-3-34)

4. Masai Ujiri, Toronto (3-3-4-28)

5. Pat Riley, Miami (1-3-1-15)

5. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City (1-3-1-15)

7. Danny Ainge, Boston (1-2-2-13)

8. Billy King, Brooklyn (2 -0-1-11)

9. Daryl Morey, Houston (0-3-1-10)

9. Ernie Grunfeld, Washington (1-1-2-10)

11. Rod Higgins, Charlotte (1-0-1-6)

11. Larry Bird, Indiana (0-2-0-6)

11. Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers (0-1-3-6)

14. Bob Myers, Golden State (1-0-0-5)

15. Danny Ferry, Atlanta (0-1-0-3)

16. Gar Forman, Chicago (0-0-2-2)

17. Donnie Nelson, Dallas (0-0-1-1)

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.)