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Warring Warriors? Draymond Green plays down heated moment with Kevin Durant

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Draymond Green approached Kevin Durant near the end of Golden State’s bench and quickly their discussion escalated into a heated dispute, both players punctuating their points with demonstrations. While the rest of the Warriors watched, a teammate eventually came over to keep the peace.

That flap during Saturday’s overtime loss at Sacramento wasn’t the first between the All-Stars, either.

Warring Warriors? Naw, no worries about a family feud for the NBA’s top team.

Green insists that’s all part of it from time to time and there is never any harm intended. Coach Steve Kerr considers it healthy and a positive once in a while.

“If you can’t, you’re probably on a losing team,” the fiery Green said Tuesday. “But everybody who makes a big deal out of it probably are losers. That’s how I view it. Anyone who knows anything about winning knows that that’s going to happen.”

Green and Durant squabbled on the court late in the third quarter after a mix-up led to a shot-clock violation. Soon after, Green could be seen on video walking toward Durant and yelling from close range while raising his hands in the air.

Green then took a seat on the bench and Durant came over to continue their argument, with Shaun Livingston playing peacemaker.

“We know it’s really nothing. It’s constructive to try to understand how we’re going to get better,” Warriors star Stephen Curry said Tuesday. “It comes from a place of respect between everybody on this team, including those two guys. So, nobody takes anything personal, nobody goes home and cries about it.”

“It’s about everybody wants to win, and in that moment it might get heated, it might happen in front of cameras, it might happen in the locker room, it might happen at practice, it might be a phone call, offline, whatever. Those kinds of conversations need to happen so that we continue to try to get better and challenge each other to not get complacent,” he said.

Green wouldn’t say exactly what was at issue moments after the Warriors’ 109-106 defeat, just that “it was actually a tactic, but that’s for us to know and for everyone else to figure out.” Green and KD also were teammates on the U.S. Olympic team that won gold in Rio last summer.

Kerr, meanwhile, was already long gone after being ejected with 3:34 left in the third quarter for a profanity-laden tirade directed at official Bill Spooner. The reigning NBA Coach of the Year apologized through the league to Spooner a day later. The NBA fined Kerr $25,000 on Monday.

Kerr called the defeat one of his team’s worst games. The Warriors, with an NBA-best 43-8 record, host Chicago on Wednesday night and will try to avoid consecutive regular-season losses for the first time since April 2015 during the franchise’s championship season.

“We had all kinds of arguments that game,” Kerr said. “Totally normal. You should have seen the Bulls back in the day, we had guys yelling at each other all the time. I equate it to if you have a lot of siblings and you’re in the house together every day and you love each other and you’d do anything for each other but you’re going to get in fights.”

“That’s what it’s like to be on a team. These guys are so close,” he said. “KD and Draymond are best of friends and they’re together every night laughing and joking. So when something happens on the floor, I don’t even bat an eye. It’s just competitive, heat-of-the-moment stuff. We played an awful game. I coached an awful game. It was a bad night for all of us.”

Green realizes there will be more tense moments with teammates along the way.

And everyone is after one thing at the end: another championship.

“If you’ve got to hide something from one of your teammates and you can’t say something, then you’re in a bad situation,” Green said. “And me personally, I don’t want to be in that situation. If you’re on a team where you can’t talk, where there’s moments where you need to yell at each other, maybe that yelling is to get each other going, like you don’t know what that is. No one else knows what that is, so if there is a team like that, please make sure I’m on the first thing smoking out of there because that team ain’t for me.”

NOTES: Klay Thompson was away from the team for a second straight day while attending his grandfather’s memorial service. … Neither F David West, out since suffering a non-displaced fracture of his left thumb Jan. 18, nor C Zaza Pachulia – sidelined with a strained right rotator cuff in his shoulder – will play against the Bulls. West still has some pain and will be re-evaluated in a few days, Kerr said. … The Warriors are four games ahead of San Antonio for the top record in the NBA.

Stan Van Gundy backs off feud with ESPN ahead of televised Pistons game

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Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy said he wouldn’t give ESPN its usual access – a private pre-game meeting and an in-game interview – in the aftermath of ESPN publishing LaVar Ball’s negative comments about Lakers coach Luke Walton.

The first test of Van Gundy’s new policy comes with today’s Pistons-Wizards game on ESPN… and Van Gundy is mostly backing down.

Van Gundy, via Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

“I got an email from Rick Carlisle of the coaches association and they want me to cooperate, so my whole idea was to boycott the thing in support of coaches,” Van Gundy said. “If the coaches don’t want that, then it would be a selfish thing, sort of a grandstanding thing.”

“I’m certainly not looking to do extra stuff with ESPN.com when those guys call and want to do things,” Van Gundy said. “They want to put themselves out there as a journalistic enterprise — they’re clearly not. They don’t have any journalistic standards. I have no obligation to do anything extra.”

Many media members have quoted Ball on a variety of issues. Coaches threw a fit over this one because they’re sensitive to coaches being criticized. It wasn’t about journalistic ethics or the source. Van Gundy and other coaches simply didn’t like Ball’s conclusion.

I’m so glad Van Gundy is no longer grandstanding. [extreme sarcasm]

He’s not obligated to speak with ESPN reporters, but when Van Gundy rails on journalistic standards as cover for disagreeing with the opinion a journalist published, he sounds a lot like the guy he loves to criticize.

Pistons’ Jon Leuer to undergo season-ending surgery

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Jon Leuer‘s ankles survived this.

But apparently they’re not invincible.

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

After suffering a sprained ankle on Oct. 31, the symptoms worsened, as an exam revealed bone fragments and other issues. Leuer has missed the last 35 games and has decided to have season-ending ankle surgery, he told The Detroit News on Friday.

Leuer, 28, has scheduled the procedure to remove bone fragments for next Friday and will have a four-month rehabilitation process.

The Pistons have applied to the NBA for a disabled-player exception

The Pistons have been without Leuer for a while, and they’ve done fine without him. Anthony Tolliver is a capable backup stretch four, and Henry Ellenson adds even more insurance there. Detroit misses Leuer as a stretch center, providing a different style behind Andre Drummond, but Eric Moreland and Boban Marjanovic have at least decently handled those reserve minutes.

The bigger issue: The Pistons are paying Leuer $10,497,319 this season and owe him $19,510,724 over the next two years and don’t miss him that much. He’s a luxury they don’t need and maybe can’t afford.

Perhaps, they’ll deal him before the trade deadline, as they look to upgrade the roster for a playoff run. Detroit could send Leuer and a draft pick or young player (Stanley Johnson) for a better player on a more favorable contract. How about Leuer and a first-round pick to the Bulls for Nikola Mirotic?

A disabled-player exception (DPE) would be worth $5,248,660, half Leuer’s salary. It could be used to sign a free agent for the rest of the season or trade for a player in the final year of his contract.

But the NBA grants a DPE only if a league-appointed physician rules the player is “substantially more likely than not” to be unable to play through June 15. The reported timeline would have Leuer back in May.

Still, the league tends to be lax with giving out DPEs. Detroit has a chance to get one.

The Pistons are just $2,745,417 below the luxury-tax line. So, they’re unlikely to use a full Leuer DPE to acquire another player (and would still need to clear a roster spot). But it could be helpful in facilitating a bigger trade.

PBT Podcast: All-Star starters mock draft, picking reserves

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The votes are in, and LeBron James and Stephen Curry are your All-Star captains.

For the first time in NBA All-Star history, that means they are picking their own teams, playground style, first from the pool of starters, then the pool of reserves. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports take on the roles of LeBron and Curry and pick their All-Star starters, from James Harden through Kyrie Irving.

Then the pair gets into who should be the All-Star Game reserves — and choosing among the Western Conference guards is brutal. Do they leave out Damian Lillard? Lou Williams? Klay Thompson? And that’s not even getting into Paul George being a bubble All-Star in a deep West.

Kurt and Dan break it all down, plus talk some Kemba Walker trade scenarios.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Aaron Gordon forgoes desperation attempt to win, sinks halfcourt shot instead (video)

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The Magic were in dire straights near the end of their game against the Cavaliers last night. Orlando trailed 104-103 with 0.2 seconds and a jump ball to be tossed at center court. By rule, the Magic didn’t have time to catch-and-shoot, let alone recover the jump ball then shoot. Aaron Gordon had to tip the jump ball through the hoop from halfcourt – nearly impossible, but technically possible.

Instead, Gordon grabbed the jump ball – a violation – then sank a halfcourt shot. What an ironic end.

Cleveland then harmlessly inbounded the ball to seal the win.