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LOS ANGELES -- Chris Pauls teammates figure he might need more time to fully recover
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LOS ANGELES -- Chris Pauls teammates figure he might need more time to fully recover from his role in one of the ugliest playoff collapses in NBA history. Eric Bledsoe Jersey . With the Los Angeles Clippers season riding on Game 6, Paul knows he doesnt have that luxury. The Oklahoma City Thunder are back at Staples Center on Thursday night, and the Clippers must shelve their memories of the mistakes late in Game 5 that cost them a chance to close out the series at home. Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford went to work on Pauls mind on the bus ride to their flight home from Oklahoma City after the Clippers blew a 13-point lead in just over four minutes. The fiasco culminated in the All-Star point guards touch foul on Russell Westbrook to set up the winning free throws, sandwiched between two brutal turnovers by Paul -- all in the final 14 seconds. "He was visibly upset, and I told him that game is not on one guy," Griffin said Wednesday at the Clippers training complex. "Its not on him. We made plenty of mistakes down the stretch, plenty of mistakes throughout the game that could ultimately change the outcome. That idea that the game is on him, you understand what hes saying, but its not on him by any means. We still have two games left to play." The Clippers roller coaster of a post-season has careened into another valley after the Thunder stormed back from near-certain defeat with the help of Pauls mistakes and a much-debated out-of-bounds call with 11.3 seconds left. Clippers coach Doc Rivers hadnt changed his opinion one day after declaring the Clippers "were robbed" on that call, although he said he wont file any formal protest. The NBA issued a statement Wednesday night saying the call was made correctly in the absence of clear evidence to change it on replay review. Paul still appeared glum, giving short, clipped answers to questions about his turnovers and the Clippers ability to bounce back in Game 6. "I woke up this morning with a beautiful wife and two beautiful kids," Paul said. "At the end of the day, it is basketball, but theres a lot of guys livelihoods who depend on it, so Ive got to do my part." After three weeks of a circus atmosphere around the Clippers, Rivers still believes his young team has gathered enough resilience to force the series back to Oklahoma City for a deciding game. The Clippers played 43 outstanding minutes in Game 5 to reach the brink of what could have been a benchmark victory in a shift of the Western Conference hierarchy, only to let it slip away. Rivers thinks its a lesson the Clippers needed. "You dont win it easy," Rivers said. "Were trying to do something special here and be something special. And if youre trying to stand out in any job, its going to be hard. Youre going to face adversity, and youve just got to accept that thats part of the process. Yeah, this is hard. Its supposed to be. And thats the only thing I told our guys. Whats going on right now is exactly what should happen to win. You have to go through stuff to win, and youve just got to deal with it." The Thunder travelled to the West Coast on Wednesday with a bit of house money after the comeback by Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who combined for 17 of Oklahoma Citys 19 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes while Los Angeles fumbled, stumbled and finally crashed. Oklahoma City could advance to its third Western Conference final in four years with a victory in Game 6. But the Thunder also recall their own collapse in Game 4 at Staples Center, where they blew a 16-point lead with nine minutes left last weekend. Game 5 told coach Scott Brooks plenty about his teams tenacity. "I like the fact that we did that after the game before," Brooks said. "We had a lot of opportunities to win that game." Neither team has been significantly better in this series: Los Angeles has cumulatively outscored the Thunder 540-539 through five games, with Oklahoma Citys two-man offensive game countering the Clippers more balanced attack. But even after the exhaustion of a seven-game first-round series with Golden State and the continuing drama surrounding owner Donald Sterlings lifetime ban, the Clippers leaders think theyve still got more fight. "I think weve done a pretty good job this season and in the post-season of putting things in the past and just moving forward," said Griffin, who leads the Clippers with 24.2 points per game in the series. Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks Jersey . Or at least on everyone elses expectations. Costa Rica followed up its surprise win over Uruguay with another World Cup stunner on Friday, beating four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round and eliminate England in the process. Milwaukee Bucks Jerseys . Goergl, the 2011 world champion, started 28th after the other top contenders had already gone down but had the fastest time at each interval. Goergl finished the demanding 3-kilometre Kaelberloch course in 1 minute, 47. http://www.nbabucksproshop.com/Authentic...ks-Jersey/ . -- Top-ranked Stacy Lewis birdied the last three holes and five of the final six Thursday for an 8-under 64 and a share of the lead with Mi Jung Hur in the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic. CHICAGO -- The pitch was just a tick up, and Starlin Castro was ready. When Edwin Jackson was limited to five innings, the bullpen took over. Pedro Alvarezs drive fell short on the warning track. These are fun days for the improving Chicago Cubs. Castro hit a three-run homer and Jackson finally got the better of Charlie Morton, leading the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. "This is the nicest Ive felt about this team since Ive been here," said Anthony Rizzo, who was acquired in a January 2012 trade with San Diego. Chris Coghlan added a solo shot as the Cubs opened a 10-game homestand with their fourth win in five games. Last-place Chicago also improved to 18-13 since May 17 for the best record in the NL in that stretch. "Everything in this game is contagious, whether its positive, negative, hitting, defence, pitching," Coghlan said. "I think were having more team at-bats." Jackson (5-7) was removed after 86 pitches due to cramps in his calves, but it was enough to get his first win in four matchups this year against Morton (4-8). The right-handers have faced off more than any other pair of starting pitchers this season in the majors. Jackson allowed three runs on Jordy Mercers fifth homer and five hits. He struck out eight and walked two in just his second win in his last six starts. Alvarez had a chance to tie the game when he came to the plate with two on and two out in the sixth. He took a frustrated hop between first and second as Ryan Sweeney ran down his long fly ball in the biggest part of the ballpark. Andrew McCutchen struck out with two on in the seventh, wasting another Pittsburgh threat. "Pitchings been pretty great all year. The offence is coming around, and the defence is coming around as well," Jackson said. "So were definitely showing a glimpse of what were able to do. Its just going out and doing it on a consistent basis." Pittsburgh rookie Gregory Polanco opened the game with a single to centre, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. He is the first NL player to begin his career with such a streak since Juan Pierres 16-game run for Colorado in 2000. Brook Lopez Bucks Jersey. The Pirates have lost four of five since a four-game winning streak. Morton retired six in a row before Jacksons one-out single in the third started a string of five consecutive batters reaching safely. Rizzo lined a two-run double into the right-field corner before Castro drove an 0-2 curveball over the wall in left for his 11th homer, moving past his total from all of last year. Morton jerked his head down in disgust when Castro connected, and then turned around to see where the ball was going. Castros third homer of the season against Morton gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead. "I could have gotten the ball down a little bit more," Morton said. "I dont think it was a bad pitch. It was a bad pitch to him in that situation." The six runs in six innings were a season high for Morton, who had won each of his last three starts and was 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA in his previous five outings. Mercer went deep after Jackson walked the first two batters in the fifth, but that was it for the Pirates. Four Cubs relievers combined for three innings of two-hit ball before Hector Rondon worked the ninth for his eighth save in 10 chances. Jason Grilli pitched the eighth for the Pirates in his first outing since manager Clint Hurdle removed the right-hander from the closer role. Grilli has blown four save opportunities this season after converting 33 of 35 chances a year ago. "Better rhythm, a better execution of pitches," Hurdle said when asked about Grillis inning. NOTES: Hurdle said before the game that Mark Melancon will close for now, and he also could use Tony Watson in save opportunities. ... Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said he is pleased with Manny Ramirezs impact on the organization so far, and the former major league star could join Triple-A Iowa next week. When Ramirez reports to Iowa, he will be a player-coach for Chicagos top farm club. ... Epstein also said he doesnt forsee a scenario where prospect Kris Bryant joins the major league club this year. ... Pirates RHP Vance Worley (0-0, 0.00 ERA) and Cubs LHP Travis Wood (7-5, 4.48 ERA) face off on Saturday. ' ' '
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