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Atlantic Notes: Nets, Celtics, Sullinger

It had to end sometime. The Heat finally lost a game after winning 27 in a row, falling to the Bulls tonight despite the absence of Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. That leaves the Knicks, who earned their sixth straight victory with a win over the Grizzlies this evening, as the team with the longest current winning streak in the NBA. The six W's in a row have allowed the Knicks to essentially end the Celtics' hopes of a sixth straight division title, and New York has built a three-game lead on second-place Brooklyn, pending the Nets' late game against the Blazers. Here's more on a pair of teams looking up at New York in the Atlantic standings.

  • Last year's Gerald Wallace deal allowed the Blazers to select Damian Lillard sixth overall in the draft this past June, but if that trade hadn't happened, the Nets still wouldn't have Lillard, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Brooklyn's scouts weren't high on last year's draft class, and the team likely would have traded the pick elsewhere if Portland hadn't come along, a source tells Bondy, who adds that the Nets weren't close to trading for Paul Pierce at the deadline a year ago, either.
  • SB Nation's Paul Flannery delivers a lengthy piece on Celtics assistant GM Ryan McDonough, examining his role in drafting Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradleyalong with plenty of insight on the team's inner workings. The article deserves a look in full, particularly for Boston fans, and details someone who appears poised to take over an NBA front office sometime soon. "He’s very good at what he does," C's coach Doc Rivers said. "He’ll be a GM. There’s no doubt about that."
  • Jared Sullinger's back had him red-flagged by NBA doctors before last year's draft, and even though the rookie is out for the season after undergoing back surgery, Rivers doesn't regret the Celtics taking him 21st overall, as Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer notes.

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