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NBA Rumors Stories for Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018
Updated 1:00 a.m. ET

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Warriors forward Kevin Durant wants his fans and critics to believe that there is nothing special about his games against his former team. More than a year and a half after he last called Oklahoma City home, the nine-time All-Star is trying to silence chatter about his past. SF Chronicle

Anyone who saw him revel in the Warriors’ 112-80 rout of the Thunder Saturday night at Oracle Arena, however, knows that the Thunder aren’t just another opponent to him. In helping exorcize the memory of Golden State’s two lopsided losses to Oklahoma City this season, Durant feasted on emotion, pouring in a game-high 28 points. SF Chronicle

It was in stark contrast to the night of Russell Westbrook, who paired with sidekick Paul George to shoot a combined 5-for-29 from the field. Oklahoma City, for all its star power, ultimately had no answer for another one of the Warriors’ signature third-quarter blitzes. Golden State closed that game-changing period on a 28-7 run to build a more-than-sufficient cushion. It was a stretch loaded with can-you-believe it highlights. SF Chronicle

When Joakim Noah signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks before last season, his return to New York was heralded as a feel-good homecoming. Noah spoke often about growing up in Manhattan and his childhood allegiance to the blue and orange. His Garden introduction - "at 6-11, from Hell's Kitchen!" - cemented his standing as a bona fide New Yorker. Less than two year later, though, Noah is no longer with the Knicks. His time in New York has been nothing short of a disaster. He's still on the roster, yes. But he's been exiled for close to a month after a practice altercation with Jeff Hornacek. NY Daily News

What once had the potential to be an ideal hometown marriage is now headed for an ugly divorce. And this, says Noah's former college teammate Al Horford, is a difficult reality to stomach. "It's hard," Horford said before the Celtics and Knicks faced off at the Garden on Saturday night. "Because ever since I met him I've always known (about) him wanting to be a Knick and be here in New York. I feel like he's really an example of kind of what New York is. He really embraces that. And it was just tough for him not being able to play to his potential here and do the things he wanted to do." NY Daily News

J.J. Barea was back in the Mavericks' starting lineup on Saturday against Utah, the fourth time in their last six games he's started. Part of that logic by Rick Carlisle is to pair Barea with Dirk Nowitzki, who always seem to bring out the best in each other. Dallas Morning News

There is a byproduct of having Barea start, however, that is more important than his work with Nowitzki. By starting, it allows rookie Dennis Smith Jr. to play shooting guard. That's not something the Mavericks envision long term. But it is something they want Smith to learn about so he can better understand what shooting guards need when he's running the point. Dallas Morning News

The Jazz are in 10th place in the Western Conference, moving back to within a game of the ninth-place LA Clippers and two games behind the eighth-place New Orleans Pelicans, neither of whom played Saturday. Deseret News

On the Mavs: But the bigger issue remains the front-office scandal that has led to an independent investigation that could reveal how much Cuban knew and when he knew it or might show how much the investigation actually uncovered 20 years ago into then-president and CEO Terdema Ussery regarding female employees alleging improper sexual conduct in the workplace. The Sports Illustrated investigative story laid out a pervasive culture of corrosive workplace behavior. Again, time will bring out the findings and new executive in charge of all non-basketball related aspects of the Mavericks' front office Cynthia Marshall will have her say on how to fix things. Dallas Morning Nwes


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