<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

BASKET-NBA-CLIPPERS-ROCKETS

PBT Extra: Do Clippers have mental toughness to bounce back with Game 7 win?

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What happened in the fourth quarter of Game 6 between the Clippers and Rockets is not going to be repeated. Sure, the Clippers got tight as their lead dwindled, but Blake Griffin is not going to miss point blank shots like that again. The Clippers are not going to miss good-look threes again. On the other side, the Rockets know Josh Smith hitting step-back threes like his last name is Curry is not sustainable.

But it didn’t need to be sustainable for the Rockets to force a Game 7 —now they have a deciding game on their home court. And the momentum.

Can Doc Rivers get the Clippers mentally turned around? Are Blake Griffin and Chris Paul mentally tough enough for a Game 7 on the road? They beat the Spurs in a Game 7, but can they repeat that outcome?

Or does the Clippers’ curse continue?

For the record, I’m picking the Clippers in a close one.

PBT Extra: Will Washington force a Game 7 against Atlanta?

John Wall, Paul Pierce
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Expect a Game 7.

The second round series between Atlanta and Washington certainly has not been pretty at times (or even much of the time), but it has been entertaining and fairly even. That said, I expect at home and with John Wall the Wizards will pick up the win Friday night and force a Game 7.

Then they very well may win that.

After Cavaliers advance to conference finals, J.R. Smith takes jab at Knicks

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 23:  J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 23, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Couldn't have said it better myself!!!@imanshumpertthe1st

A photo posted by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert can be solid complementary role players on a team.

In New York, there wasn’t much to complement (or compliment, for that matter).

But the pair have fit in well with the Cavaliers — a team that was in need of depth and quality role players — and helped Cleveland past Chicago to advance to the conference finals.

After Thursday’s game, Smith took a little dig at the Knicks on Instagram.

Smith was not long for the Knicks after Phil Jackson came to town — there may be no player that is a worse fit for the triangle offense than Smith. It was a question of when he would go, not if. The divorce was not smooth, and clearly J.R. still has a little resentment. There certainly are some club owners in NYC that miss Smith as well.

I’m sure that Jackson is not losing sleep over any of this.

PBT Extra: Grizzlies have no good answers for Warriors’ defense

Mike Conley, Andrew Bogut
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All series long there has been plenty of talk about the Golden State offense — and with good reason, it’s impressive.

But the real key to their Game 5 win was their defense, and it’s that end of the floor Julie Donaldson and I discuss in this PBT Extra.

Golden State is playing well on that end, and I’m not sure there are good counters for Memphis. The Grizzlies need better three point shooting to open up the floor enough to give Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph room to operate inside.

Watch highlights of Rockets’ fourth quarter charge to keep season alive

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It’s hard to think of another game like this one. Maybe Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals, when the Celtics came from 24 down on the Lakers to win. Maybe.

Thursday night the Clippers were in total control, up 19 and just 14:30 separating them from the franchise’s first-ever conference finals trip. But the Clippers shot 5-of-27 and were outscored 49-18 the rest of the way to lose.

Credit the Rockets for playing with the desperation of a team that did not want to go home. Corey Brewer had 15 points, and Josh Smith 14, plus the Rockets played much better defense as well. The Clippers played not to lose and left the door open, the Rockets stormed through it and took the win.