Clippers head coach was in a noticeably better mood on day after the controversial out-of-bounds play call in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 13-point comeback win against the Clippers to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Rivers took center stage with the media cameras and voice recorders surrounding him and his golf shirt as he held a piece of paper in his hand.
“I have a statement to make,” the first-year Clippers coach said with a smile, quickly tucking the paper into his pocket. Cue laughter.
It was a stark contrast to the Clipper’s post-game press conference where Rivers was visibly angry over a call where the Thunder’s Reggie Jackson was met by Matt Barnes near the basket with 11.6 seconds left. In the replay, Barnes appears to get a touch on the ball, knocking it out of bounds, but looked to still have come off Jackson. After review the referees kept the ball with Oklahoma. Seconds later Chris Paul fouled Russell Westbrook on a three-pointer. Westbrook sunk all three for the 105-104 win.
“In my opinion, let’s take away replay. Let’s take away the replay system. because that was our ball, we win the game,” said the emotional Rivers in the post-game press conference. “And we got robbed because of that call.”
The first question asked to Rivers on Wednesday was if that he was in a better mood from Tuesday night.
“I better be (in a better mood) otherwise I’d feel bad,” said Rivers with a smile. “I was very upset last night and rightly so. But you have to move on and that’s what I told our guys.”
Later, Rivers said he has talked with the NBA on the call, but provided no more information, calling the situation “private.” Rivers also said he and the organization would not file a formal protest.
“I don’t ever do that. I’ve never filed a protest in my life because I don’t know what you are going to get,” said Rivers with a laugh. “In Boston a couple times they wanted me to do that, I said, “No thank you, I’ll pass on that.”
Despite the call, Rivers pointed out that the play should not have determined the outcome of the game with the Clippers leading by double-digits late. The Clippers put themselves in that position with mistakes and defensive lapses down the stretch.
“It happened,” said Rivers, “and we move on.”