Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, Hedo Turkoglu (8), Jamal Crawford (11) and Blake Griffin (32) walk back to their bench in the closing minutes of a 118-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors during the second half in Game 4 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series on Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
After the Clippers’ emotional 105-104 Game 5 collapse to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, where Los Angeles squandered a 13-point lead in the final four minutes of play, point-gaurd Chris Paul took the blame.
Paul’s stretch of play in the waning moments would make no highlight reel. Paul turned the ball over with 17.8 seconds left that led to the controversial out-of-bounds call involving Reggie Jackson and the Clippers’ Matt Barnes call with 11.6 seconds left.
After the review kept the ball with the Thunder, Paul fouled Russell Westbrook on the elbow as he attempted a three-point shot with 6.4 ticks left. Westbrook sunk all three for the 105-104 lead.
Chris Paul sat in Sunday’s post-game news conference, looking forlorn. His team had just lost Game 4 of their Western Conference playoff series to the Golden State Warriors 118-97 at Oracle Arena in Oakland. The series is tied 2-2 with Game 5 Tuesday at Staples center.
The game was played in front of a wild Warriors home sellout crowd of 19,596. The Clippers always sell out with about the same amount of fans. But one has to wonder what the crowd is going to be like Tuesday with this whole fiasco involving team owner Donald Sterling and his alleged racist remarks about African-Americans that has cast a very negative pall over the organization.
Paul was asked about it.
“I would by lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about what it is going to be like because our fans have been amazing all season long and, obviously, I hope that it will be the same,” Paul said. “You just never know. They’ve been amazing, and we wouldn’t be where we are without them. But it’s tough.”
There has been lots of talk about that play with 18.9 seconds left to play in Saturday’s playoff opener between the visiting Golden State Warriors and the Clippers at Staples Center.
Chris Paul had the ball for the Clippers and was trying to get around a corner so he could drive to the basket. Draymond Green came over and fouled Paul, who lost the ball out of bounds. The only problem is, the foul wasn’t called. There was a review of the play, but not for the purposes of whether a foul had been committed as that is not reviewable. It was to see who touched the ball last and it was Paul, the ball being award to the Warriors, who were up by two points on their way to a 109-105 victory.
The NBA on Sunday issued a statement that said while officials properly reviewed what was reviewable, Paul was indeed fouled and he should have been awarded two free throws.
Stephen Curry, one of the Warriors’ two 3-point-shooting guards, reacted to the NBA’s statement at practice Sunday at UCLA.
“The ref was standing there and he made a judgement call,” Curry said of the non-call on the foul by Green. “The replay was in our favor. Refereeing, there’s nothing perfect about that. They make mistakes every once in a while and I’m sure during the course of the game, they could go back and admit they were bad calls. That was just a crucial moment in the game. I don’t like it myself. It takes away what we did as a team by mulling what could’ve happened.”
Rod Thorn, president of basketball operations for the NBA, issued a statement Sunday saying replays showed that Golden State’s Draymond Green did foul the Clippers’ Chris Paul with 18.9 seconds left to play in the Warriors’ 109-105 victory over the Clippers on Saturday in the opener of their Western Conference playoff series at Staples Center.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, it was not called and that part of the play was not reviewable. When officials reviewed the sequence, they were only looking for one thing – who touched the ball last before it went out of bounds? That was Paul, and the ball was awarded to Golden State.
“After reviewing postgame video, we have concluded that the instant replay review of the out-of-bounds call with 18.9 seconds remaining in the game involving the Clippers’ Chris Paul and the Warriors’ Draymond Green was administered correctly by the referees and the correct decision was made in awarding the ball to the Warriors,” Thorn’s statement read. “Under the existing rule, referees may only use instant replay to determine which player caused the ball to go out and a limited set of other reviewable matters (see summary of rule here: http://t.co/IQ2qM6BOjb). Just prior to the ball going out-of-bounds, Paul was fouled by Green and Paul should have been granted two free throws. Contact preceding out-of-bounds calls is not a reviewable matter.”
The Clippers were down 107-105 at the time.
In one season, Doc Rivers has helped transformed the Clippers into one of the best teams in the NBA. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)
With the Clippers in the playoffs, the players — among others — are lauding Doc Rivers.
“He just makes you want to run through a brick wall for him. That’s what he puts in everybody. And it’s not just because the way he talks, it’s how he looks at you in the eyes so you know that it’s something that he really believes in.”
“He’s, to me, probably one of the most competitive persons in the league.”
“Every time he speaks during practice, for me it’s a learning experience…”
Read the full story here: “Doc Rivers gets universal praise for Clippers leadership“
- Jamal Crawford’s outside shot was way off in this one. He was 3 of 9 from the field, 0 of 3 from 3-point range and he tossed up a couple of serious bricks. Since he has battled his calf injury for so long, this performance could create some worry. But not for teammate Blake Griffin. “I’m not concerned, definitely not,” he said. “Jamal will be ready to play. Everybody has an off game, if you even want to call it that. But Jamal is the least of our concerns, the least of my concerns, for sure.”
- It’s almost hard to believe that one player could amass as many as 16 technical fouls in a season. Griffin got his 16th in this one, though it could be rescinded. Still, whether it’s 15 or 16, it kind of boggles the mind. Then again, it’s Griffin’s intensity that helps make him the great player he’s become.
- Man, J.J. Redick was stroking that 3-pointer. He looked really good in making 4 of 6 from long distance, and his return to form could not come at a better time with the playoffs knocking on the door.
- Check out the line of Chris Paul: 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting, 3 of 5 from 3-point range; 10 assists; two steals; and just one turnover in 28 minutes. Not too shabby.
- DeAndre Jordan’s poor free-throw shooting was again a topic of conversation on press row. He missed his first seven before making his eighth, after which he received a round of applause. Interestingly, it’s not like he’s tossing up a laser that bounces 12 feet off the rim when he misses, the way other players do who struggle from the line. His shot is soft and often on line. Then it will hit the front of the rim and fall almost straight down. It seems like he’s close to making more. But his six-year career percentage of 42.5 suggests otherwise. He is shooting 42.8 percent this year.
Chris Paul is one of the best point guards of his generation. But he can heat up and be a deadly shot from long distance, like he was in Sunday’s 120-97 victory over the Lakers.
Paul scored 23 points and made 8 of 10 shots from the field. Even more impressive, he made all four of his 3-point attempts.
Coach Doc Rivers was not surprised.
“He can do that, he just chooses not to do that,” Rivers said. “So when you watch him shoot in practice with J.J. (Redick) and those guys, he’s right there with them. He gets in the game and he usually is so busy being a point guard, and he forgets that he’s a shooter. And a lot of his shots are second-thought shots, which are very difficult to make. I thought he had a stretch in the third (quarter) where he was looking for a shot, and I enjoy when he plays that way.”
Paul shoots a respectable 36.2 percent (71 of 196) from 3-point range.
You hear it all the time – defense wins championships. To Chris Paul, that’s what it’s going to take for his team to make a deep run in the upcoming post-season. Following Sunday’s victory over the Lakers, he was asked about preparing for the playoffs, and his response reflected that credo.
“Like we’ve been saying for a while now, it’s about us,” Paul said. “(Coach) Doc (Rivers) told us going into this game that it’s about competing. Right now, different sets that we run, our defense … you just want to make it to where when you get into the playoffs, it’s like clockwork and you don’t have to think about it.
“I think those are the teams that are usually at their best. That’s why the Spurs are so successful and (why) the Heat are two-time defending champs. You just rely on your defense night in and night out.”
This season the Spurs are allowing 97.1 points per game, fourth best in the league. Miami is 6th at 97.3. The Clippers are allowing 100.7 points, 14th in the league. But they are also the highest-scoring team in the NBA at 107.8 points per game. Their differential of plus-7.1 is second best in the league behind San Antonio’s plus-8.5.
Coach Doc Rivers and the rest of the Clippers must be stoked about how well J.J. Redick is looking. After not having played for two months, he scored 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting in 24 minutes in his second game back. A bulging disc in Redick’s back has been the issue, but he did not look like someone with back issues Sunday. The Clippers really need him healthy for the playoffs.
- As good as that news is, there was still no Jamal Crawford, out for the fourth consecutive game because of an ongoing calf injury. Rivers told reporters before the game it would be a bummer if Crawford could not play again until the playoffs. But it’s looking like that is a real possibility.
- How about that game by Chris Paul. He scored 23 points and doled out six assists, which is actually lower than his average. But he made 8 of 10 from the field, including all four of his attempts from 3-point range.
- Blake Griffin had a fine game with 23 points on 7 of 14 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Interestingly, only one of his seven baskets came from any kind of distance, where most of misses came from. He hit one outside jumper and that was it. After missing three in a row at one juncture, his body language displayed a bit of frustration. But, hey, the good ones still find a way to have good games, which is what Griffin did.
- With this victory, by the end of Sunday night the Clippers had crawled to within a game of Oklahoma City in the Western Conference standings because of the Thunder’s loss to Phoenix. The Clippers (55-23) and OKC (55-21) square off Wednesday at staples Center. The Clippers have four games left, the Thunder six.
It wasn’t long after the Clippers defeated the Lakers 120-97 Sunday at Staples Center that Chris Paul was being asked about Wednesday’s game coming up against Oklahoma City, which at this writing was 1 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers in the Western Conference standings; the Thunder was embroiled in a Sunday game with Phoenix. OKC is the No. 2 seed in the conference at the moment, the Clippers No. 3.
“It’s a big game; big game for us,” Paul said. “I’m not sure where we are as far as seeding and stuff like that, but what is it, 2 to 1 right now us?”
Paul was informed that is correct.
“Yeah, so if it does come down to something like that, we’d love to have the tiebreaker,” he said.
The Clippers only have four games left, the Thunder have six after Sunday.
The Clippers defeated OKC 111-103 on Nov. 13 at Staples Center, lost to the Thunder 105-91 on Nov. 21 at Oklahoma City, then beat the Thunder 125-117 on Feb. 23 at OKC.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, OKC’s Kevin Durant was the leading scorer in all three games with 33, 28 and 42 points.