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Clippers’ Austin Rivers out with hamstring strain, could miss start of playoffs

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There may be resentment in the locker room toward his favorite son treatment and larger contract than he deserved, but the Clippers could use Austin Rivers in the playoffs. He’s become a replacement-level reserve point guard probably having his best NBA season, averaging 12 points, 2.8 assists, a 54.5 true shooting percentage, and he’s a threat from three.

Now the Clippers may have to get by without him for the rest of the regular season, and maybe into the playoffs, due to a hamstring strain, reports Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.

Rivers told Brodrick Turner of the Los Angeles Times he likely is not back until the middle of the first round, at the earliest.

“I’m disappointed,” Austin Rivers said. “I was looking forward to this year’s playoffs. The goal was game one of the playoffs, but it’s looking like hopefully midfirst round, early second round. We’ll see. You never know, I might heal faster than I think so.

“In my mind, my goal is to be back by the first round, for game one or game two, which is ideal. So, we’ll see.”

The injury occurred Wednesday night against the Wizards. Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton will pick up the slack.

In the playoffs, Rivers likely would get fewer than the almost 28 a night he gets most games, but the minutes he got with Chris Paul out would matter — they could use his offensive punch. The Clippers seemed locked into a 4/5 first round series against the Utah Jazz, who lean heavily on George Hill at the point with Dante Exum getting a few minutes behind him.

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

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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.)