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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 12:04 PM




Okay, so maybe it was appropriate that just the other day baseball icon Yogi Berra celebrated his 90th birthday - after all, wasn't he the guy that once famously said, "It ain't over till it's over"?

Well, this past Thursday night everyone inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles believed it was "over" when it came to the best-of-seven NBA Western Conference semifinal round series between the host LA Clippers and the Houston Rockets.
The Clips - up three games-to-two at the time - led 87-68 late in the third quarter and soon it would be party time for head coach Doc Rivers and his still-young Clippers club.

Hmm, then Houston stopped playing like dogs and rattled off a 51-20 scoring advantage in the final quarter-plus and before anyone could say "Fat Burger" the Clips were Game 6 toast:
Rockets 119, Clippers 107 ... see y'all Sunday in Houston!

The fact of the matter is the Clippers did two things in particular there in the late going of Game 6:

They did indeed let their foot off the gas pedal and they simply couldn't hit the broad side of a barn as LA netted just 4-of-22 field-goal attempts in the final frame.

Unbelievably, the Rockets played almost that entire fourth quarter without scoring whiz James Harden - and give mucho credit for Houston head coach Kevin McHale for sticking with the likes of Corey Brewer (he scored 15 of his 19 points in the 4th quarter) and Josh Smith who finished with 14 of his 19 points in the final stanza.

Who will step front-and-center come Game 7?

Now, here's how this playoff series has gone so far between the Clippers and the Rockets (home teams in CAPS):

5-4Clippers+ 7.5HOUSTON117-101
5-6HOUSTON- 8.5Clippers115-109
5-8CLIPPERS- 6.5Houston124-99
5-10CLIPPERS- 6.5Houston128-95
5-12HOUSTON+ 3Clippers124-103
5-14Houston+ 8.5CLIPPERS119-107

In other NBA News & Notes ...
One final note on Clippers versus Rockets is don't underestimate what the LA bench does here in Game 7. That's because in Game 6 the reserves were awful with Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers combining to go 6-of-21 from the floor - in all the Clips bench registered 16 points in 49 minutes but didn't provide any "life" here ...

The Chicago Bulls were exiled in six games in their Eastern Conference semifinal round series against Cleveland - and it seems certain that Thursday's ugly 94-73 home loss was the final nail in head coach Tom Thibodeau's coffin in Chitown.

True, Thibodeau still has two years and approximately $9 million left on his current contract but major front-office friction with John Paxson and Gar Forman appears to have greased the paths for Thibodeau's exit and so, naturally, the next couple of questions are: Where will "Coach Tibs" land next and who will be coaching the Bulls beginning in the 2015-16 season?

The inside word is that Thibodeau - who we would rate as one of the best four or five head coaches in the game today - likely will head to the now-vacant position in New Orleans after the surprising firing of Monty Williams earlier this week. All along we've been hearing Orlando would be Thibodeau's ultimate destination but now that the Pelicans need a coach - did they have things worked out with Thibodeau before axing Williams? - it appears the Magic will be the ones looking for a new sideline general.

Meanwhile, the public perception is that the Bulls will replace Thibodeau with current assistant coach Adrian Griffin or perhaps current Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg (who just about gets mentioned for every job opening in the pros or colleges these days!) but don't be shocked if something crazy happens such as one-time Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks getting offered the Bulls gig ...

FYI, note that NBA Playoff Betting Favorites entered Friday night's games at 29-32-1 ATS (against the spread) with one pick 'em game tossed into the mix and note five of the last six games while entering Friday's action featured underdog covers ...

Finally, the NBA Draft Lottery will be held Tuesday night and there's major buzz in a batch of cities - but no bigger than in Los Angeles where the Lakers are dreaming about landing the numero uno pick and, of course, in New York where the Knicks are keeping fingers crossed that either Kentucky C Karl-Anthony Towns or Duke C Jahlil Okafor will be sitting there at either #1 or #2 - will there be a Patrick Ewing/1985 feel to this lottery?

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been bashing the books right from the start of this year's NBA Playoffs and nothing's gonna change here as we start closing out the Round II action. Just go online right here or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 each/every day and be sure that we'll send you straight into the winner's circle.
Plus, there's Major-League Baseball on tap and so the time is just right to cash in big this spring!

We're fast approaching the "quarter pole" in this here-and-now 2015 Major-League Baseball season and one manager - Milwaukee's Ron Roenicke - already has been slam-dunked following a 7-18 start after that disastrous finish to 2014.

Don't get the wrong idea here, folks, we're not trying to press the "eject button" on any big-league skipper but we've been hearing rumblings in recent days that a few managers are "in trouble" and so let's investigate a couple of 'em:

ROBIN VENTURA, Chicago White Sox - True, the Pale Hose have picked up the beat the past couple of weeks after a sluggish start that included a four-game sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Twins (see April 30th through May 3rd) but this club has been rotten on the road with a 4-12 record while playing in Oakland this weekend and a bad series here and then a potentially bad home series against Cleveland prior to Memorial Day weekend and Ventura could get his walking papers.

TERRY COLLINS, New York Mets - We know, we know the Mets are in first place (20-15) while entering this weekend set against Milwaukee but all the little things the Mets were doing in their 11-game win streak earlier this year they ain't doing anymore as situational hitting, base-running and top-to-bottom defense have been problematic. It doesn't help Collins' cause that he's been publicly criticized lately for keeping in ace RHP Matt Harvey "too long" in a blowout win against the New York Yankees and then yanked 'em "too soon" in this past Wednesday's 2-1 loss at Wrigley Field (Harvey left the game with a 1-0 lead having thrown 100 pitches through seven full innings). In case you're wondering, if Collins does get fired this season, it won't be Triple A manager Wally Backman who lands the job but rather Mets third-base coach Tim Teufel ... says us!

Note: Catch more MLB and NBA Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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