Associated Press

Rajon Rondo understands Celtics fans booing him now

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There was a time when Rajon Rondo was beloved in the Boston Garden. He was the defensive-minded, smart-passing point guard who learned from the Big Three and helped the Celtics hang another banner in 2008. He spent nine seasons in Celtics’ green.

Those days are long gone — now Rondo is hearing boos from the Boston faithful as he takes the court wearing the red uniform of the Chicago Bulls in a first-round playoff series (Chicago leads 1-0).

And he’s good with that, as he told Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“These fans are great,” Rondo said before Tuesday’s shootaround. “I wouldn’t expect anything else. A couple nice words were said when I walked out of the tunnel, but that’s Boston. They’ve been doing that for me for nine years while I was here so I don’t expect it [another way]….

“I’ve been walking the streets the last couple of days,” he said. “It’s a pretty good welcoming back — [people ask] for autographs and pictures, so they have to boo me [later]. Obviously I’ve got on a red jersey, so it’s part of it.”

That’s all of it really. They aren’t going to be retiring Rondo’s jersey in the Garden, but he had good years there and picked up a ring. He will be part of Celtics lore from the Big Three era. But that era is not now – right now Rondo plays for the enemy.

The problem for Celtics fans now is Rondo is playing pretty well, and his Bulls are proving to be the rare challenging 1/8 matchup.

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.)