Stephenson’s plan to keep Paul George a Pacer? “Tie him up on a chair” and tell him to stay

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In the summer of 2018, Paul George can be a free agent, which is going to make this summer interesting for the Pacers. If George makes an All-NBA team — and he’s on the bubble for it, he made the third team last year — the Pacers can give him the $210 million designated player contract that’s going to guarantee him $70 million more than anyone else. He’d sign that. If not, the Pacers have to consider trading him (or do it at the deadline) because it would be a huge setback for the organization to lose him for nothing in 2018.

Larry Bird and company want to keep him, the question is how without the large sums of cash.

Just returned Pacer Lance Stephenson has a plan, something almost straight out of “Goodfellas” (via Derek Shultz of Fox Sports Radio in Indianapolis).

Yes, Stephenson was joking.

If George does not make an All-NBA team, the Pacers may well kick the tires on a trade, but more likely first they will look for moves to upgrade their roster to contender status — George has said he’s not leaving if the Pacers are contenders. Of course, getting the remaining pieces for an elite roster that fast is only slightly more practical than Stephenson’s plan.

If George is not an All-NBA player this year and if Bird cannot quickly construct a contender, then the Pacers have to revisit these trades and try to get something back for their star. He will walk in 2018 — he’s known to be interested in a return to his native Los Angeles to play for the Lakers, the question is will they have anywhere near the kind of roster he will want to sign with? A lot of things can happen before 2018.

If nothing else, there’s Stephenson’s idea.

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.)