After the Los Angeles Clippers Game 4 win Doc Rivers was calling for a beer. Now after suffering a heart-breaking, referee-intrusive loss in Game 5, Doc is calling for reform.
Let’s take away the replay system because that’s our ball and we win the game. And we got robbed because of that call. And it’s clear, everybody in the arena saw it. That’s why everybody was shocked they said Oklahoma City (ball).
A game-defining and potentially series-changing play involving Matt Barnes and Reggie Jackson is what Doc is referring to. Barnes seemingly slapped (fouled) the ball off of Jackson’s hands in the closing seconds of Game 5, but upon further review the referees ruled that the possession would remain with OKC.
Chris Paul would then snake-bite foul Russell Westbrook (38 points) shooting a 3 with just 6.4 seconds remaining. After Westbrook drilled all three free throws, the Thunder took a 105-104 lead that they would not relinquish.
The Clippers would have a chance to win the game but Paul would turn the ball over for the second time in 17 seconds and now they are down 3-2 heading back to the Staples Center to try and save their season.
“Everything that happened at the end there is on me” quipped a remorseful and visibly shaken Paul. “This was bad… this was real bad.”
L.A. tried to nurse a 101-88 lead with just 4:32 to play and now have to lick their wounds from a devastating collapse in which the Thunder deserve more credit than blame for “stealing” away. Despite DeAndre Jordan scoring zero points and being mired in foul trouble, the Clippers had a chance to win. Despite the fact the Thunder shot 36 free throws compared to L.A’s 20, the Clippers had a chance to win.
Durant was a shell of himself, shooting just 3-for-17 from the floor until those final four minutes, which gave the Clippers a chance to win. L.A.’s defense held everybody not named Durant or Westbrook to under double digits, they got Blake Griffin’s first double-double of the postseason (24 points and 17 rebounds) and well you guessed it … had a chance to win.
But they didn’t win. They didn’t put themselves one game away from the Western Conference Finals with a chance to clinch at home and that’s a shame. Doc Rivers and his crew have been phenomenal preparing his team for these playoffs and even with unprecedented distractions they have been able to make it this far.
Unfortunately the ride is nearing an end unless the Clippers have short memories. They have to erase the pain of Game 5, which is one of the deepest cutting playoff losses in recent years to any team, outside of the Spurs in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last season.
This one was bad as Paul kept repeating in his postgame presser. But just how bad it is will be something they as a team will have to decide.
Can they pick themselves up one more time this season after withstanding Paul’s injury earlier in the year and Donald Sterling’s bigoted comments during these very same playoffs? Can Paul, who looked like he needed a hug after Game 5, snap out of that funk and be the un-guardable game manager many have anointed him as? Will Griffin and Jordan rediscover their in-game chemistry and, more importantly, stay out of foul trouble?
Their resolve is being tested. It’s all on the line and the above questions need to be answered in the affirmative. Otherwise their season will come to an abrupt end prolonging the cursed stink the franchise is so desperate to cleanse itself of, despite the immense talent on the roster.