Westbrook gets 15th triple-double, Thunder top Heat 106-94

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MIAMI (AP) Russell Westbrook got his 15th triple-double of the season by the midpoint of the third quarter, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Miami Heat 106-94 on Tuesday night to extend their winning streak to four games.

Westbrook finished with 29 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists. He was two rebounds shy of the triple-double at halftime, and now has six before the end of third quarters this season.

Enes Kanter scored 19 and Steven Adams added 15 – including a highlight-reel dunk in the first half – for the Thunder.

Josh Richardson tied a career high with 22 points for the Heat. James Johnson scored 16 and Tyler Johnson added 15, both off the bench, for Miami.

The Heat were without point guard Goran Dragic, sidelined by back spasms.

Oklahoma City dominated in the paint, outscoring Miami 58-32. And Westbrook simply controlled play, making 11 of 22 shots from the field and then scoring 11 points in the fourth to help the Thunder close out the win.

“They see the numbers and what he does in games. They don’t get a chance to see behind the scenes,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “The one thing I admire about him is he practices every single day. He has great energy every single day. He comes to every shootaround and he practices. He puts the time in and that’s the reason why he’s as successful as he is.”

TIP-INS

Thunder: Oklahoma City improved to 12-3 this season and 45-7 all-time when Westbrook has a triple-double. … Westbrook had four assists and three rebounds in the first 11:59 – matching the Heat totals in that same span. … Victor Oladipo missed his eighth game with a right wrist sprain. … Donovan got big hugs both pregame and postgame from Heat forward Udonis Haslem, who played for him at Florida.

Heat: Josh McRoberts (stress fracture in left foot) is out indefinitely, the team announced Tuesday. McRoberts said he will be back this season. … In tribute to George Michael, the singer who died on Christmas, the Heat played a number of hits during stoppages in play. … Actor and comedian Chris Rock sat courtside, as did Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi.

AGAINST MIAMI

Westbrook became the sixth opposing player to visit Miami and post a triple-double, joining Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Andre Miller and Rajon Rondo. (Pippen and Rondo did it in playoff games.) He also became the third player to record multiple triple-doubles against Miami. Jason Kidd and Rondo are the others, both with three such outings. Westbrook’s other one against Miami was Jan. 17.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Visit Memphis on Thursday, wrapping up a two-game trip.

Heat: Visit Charlotte on Thursday, the start of a road back-to-back that continues in Boston.

Report: Even after Kyrie Irving requests trade, Carmelo Anthony still focused on Rockets, not Cavaliers

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Carmelo Anthony was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavaliers. Cleveland never seemed overly interested, but Houston was. Anthony became set on the Rockets, even reportedly expecting a trade to Houston.

Then, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.

That has thrown everything for a loop. Maybe Cleveland is more keen on trading for Anthony now? The Knicks are reportedly interested in trading Anthony and draft picks for Irving.

But any deal still depends on Anthony’s approval, and it’s now unclear he’d still grant that for the Cavaliers.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

However, a source close to Anthony said late Friday that the All Star forward is focused on getting a deal done with Houston.

Consider this another indication LeBron James will leave Cleveland next summer. Of course, Anthony might have other reasons for preferring Houston. But when reading tea leaves on LeBron’s future, this is a clue.

I doubt LeBron has completely decided his plan, and he hasn’t even necessarily shared his thinking with Anthony, a close friend. Remember, LeBron edited his coming-home essay while on a flight with an unknowing Dwyane Wade, another close friend. But it was one thing for LeBron to strand Wade in Miami, a desirable city where Wade was happy even before LeBron arrived. It’d be something else entirely for LeBron to ditch Anthony in Cleveland. If LeBron is considering leaving, maybe he’d tell Anthony to stay clear.

Anthony could also be operating without hearing directly from LeBron. But if LeBron’s friend believes LeBron might leave, that’d still say something (though obviously not as much).

Back to the possibility that Anthony prefers the Rockets for other reasons. What happens if New York and Cleveland agree to a trade? Does Anthony still hold out for his top choice? Or does he relent and accept what was once his second choice? For now, it seems as if he’s still angling for Houston and will cross other bridges if he reaches them.

DeMarre Carroll: I fit better with Nets than ball-stopping Raptors

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DeMarre Carroll – after being traded from Toronto to Brooklyn – said some Raptors players didn’t trust their teammates. That’s the type of lightening-rod statement that often creates more controversy and/or comes across more harshly than the speaker intended. So, representative of his true feelings or not, he usually tries to walk it back.

Not Carroll, who mostly doubled down.

Carroll, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post:

Carroll, who will make $30 million over the next two seasons, admitted he wasn’t fit for Toronto’s isolation-heavy offense, that he is a role player at his best when his team moves the ball.

“Yeah, that’s definitely fair to say. I had my share of iso already, so team-ball is my forte,” said Carroll, who said it was effective with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. “You got two great All-Stars, two great players. That’s how they play. They were playing that way before I came, and they’re going to be playing that way long after I leave. They’re not changing that for me.”

“I give credit to Masai: He helped me find a team,’’ Carroll said. “Me coming from a system in Atlanta where the team is about moving the ball, we felt like it wasn’t a fit. I’m not an iso player by any means. I’m definitely a role player and for me to be the best role player I need to be on a team that shares the ball.

Carroll did emphasize more this time that an isolation system is more effective with Lowry and DeRozan. Some might even argue that system is more necessary considering the talent disparity between Toronto’s stars and their teammates – like Carroll. Carroll’s scoring prowess is more similar to the other Nets, which makes great ball movement more effective. If Lowry’s and DeRozan’s teammates were equally as good as those two, Lowry and DeRozan might pass more.

It’s a tough equilibrium to strike, and the Raptors probably haven’t yet. After multiple playoff disappointments, they’re trying for a a “culture reset” that includes more passing. It’s a big shift for a team and stars with such established identities.

Count Carroll among those doubting they’ll truly change their approach.

New Knicks GM Scott Perry: I haven’t met with James Dolan yet

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Knicks fans clamored for years for owner James Dolan to stop meddling. Dolan finally listened, handing the keys to the franchise to Phil Jackson then stepping away – another big error by the error-prone owner.

Then, Knicks fans clamored for Dolan to fire Jackson. Eventually – and far later than ideal – Dolan got Jackson out of town.

With Steve Mills succeeding Jackson as team president, what is Dolan’s involvement now? New general manager Scott Perry – rather awkwardly – shed light on the situation during an interview with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and Michael Smith.

Via Reed Wallach of Nets Daily:

  • Hill: “It’s still early, but what have your interactions with James Dolan been like?”
  • Perry: “I have not met with him yet, but I’m looking forward to that.”
  • Smith: “You have not met with him since you took the job, you mean?”
  • Perry: “Yes.”
  • Smith: “Gotcha. But obviously you met with him before you took the job?”
  • Perry: “No, I’ve dealt very closely with Steve Mills throughout the process.”
  • Smith: “Oh, it’s really just been Steve?”
  • Perry: “It’s just been – yes. Yes, it has.”

This isn’t necessarily problematic. Did you met with your boss’s boss during the interview process or shortly after being hired? For some jobs, I have. For others, I haven’t.

Though Perry carries the lofty general-manager title, Mills still runs the front office and reports directly to Dolan. I am curious how often Mills interacts with Dolan, though at least Mills is now getting advised from below with Perry.

The last time Mills was left to his own devices, he signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million deal.

Kings finally waive rights to 44-year-old European player they drafted in 1995

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Back in 1995 — while you were listening to Coolio rap “Gangster’s Paradise,” watching the O.J. Simpson trial, and using your cell phone to actually make calls — Sacramento Kings GM Geoff Petrie used a late second round pick on Dejan Bodiroga.

The Serbian point forward — who played for the Serbian national team with Vlade Divac — never came over to the NBA, despite multiple efforts by the Kings, and is still considered one of the better European players never to test the NBA waters. He was a Spanish and Greek league MVP and won multiple titles in European leagues.

Friday, the Kings finally renounced his draft rights.

He’s just 44 and hasn’t played professionally since 2007, are they sure he still couldn’t contribute? (Insert your own Jose Calderon joke here.)

Kings fans on Twitter were awesome.