This year’s NBA playoffs have been one of the most memorable in years, but the Los Angeles Clippers suffered a controversial call they might want to forget.
The call came late in Game 5 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers on May 13.
With 16 seconds left and Los Angeles up 104-102, Clippers point guard Chris Paul turned the ball over. Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson picked it up and drove up the court, but lost the ball out of bounds with 11.3 seconds left.
The referees gathered to review the play, ultimately giving the ball back to the Thunder. A replay showed that the Clippers’ Matt Barnes fouled Jackson, causing him to turn the ball over. However, the referees did not call the foul when it happened, so they could not go back and change the call.
On the next play, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook took a three-point shot with 6.4 seconds left and missed—but this time around the referees called a foul on Paul, giving Westbrook three free throws. He would make all three.
Despite the Clippers being down 105-104 after the free throws, they still had a chance to win the game on the next possession. Paul took the ball but once again turned it over, sealing the win for Oklahoma and a 3-2 series lead.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers had some choice words for the referees during the post-game press conference.
“We did a lot of stuff to lose the game ourselves,” he admitted. “But at the end of the day, we have a replay system that you’re supposed to look at. I don’t want to hear that they didn’t have that replay. That’s a bunch of crap…that’s a bunch of crap, and y’all know it.”
“We made a comedy of errors,” he added. “Having said that, we still have the right to win the game if the [call] says it’s our ball. That’s too bad. That could be a series-defining call. And that’s not right.”
The following day, Rivers was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his comments.
Paul was more concerned about his own mistakes than the call made by the referees.
“It’s me,” Paul said during the press conference. “Everything that happened at the end is on me.”