Dan Feldman

Doc Rivers brought to tears in pregame interview session (video)

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LOS ANGELES — Clippers coach Doc Rivers’ eyes welled with tears and he became choked up before his team’s 108-98 loss to Portland in Game 5 of their first-round series.

During his pregame availability Wednesday night, Rivers was asked who he leans on to get through after losing injured stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

Rivers responded, “I don’t know,” and his dark eyes filled with tears. He paused and put his hand to his face in an attempt to keep any liquid from spilling out. He told the media that his emotional reaction wasn’t in response to the reporter’s question.

The 54-year-old coach mentioned his late mother, Bettye Rivers, saying, “That would have been the person.”

She died last June in Maywood, Illinois, the Chicago suburb where Rivers grew up and starred at Proviso East High School.

Rivers stared straight ahead in the quiet room before getting up and walking out.

The Clippers and Trail Blazers are tied 2-2. Griffin is out for the season after aggravating a quadriceps injury, while Paul broke his hand in Game 4 on Monday.

Back in 2008, Rivers had guided the Boston Celtics within a game of the NBA championship when he had a similar emotional reaction involving his father. He choked back tears thinking of Grady Rivers, who died during that season. The Celtics clinched their 17th title two days later by beating the Lakers on Father’s Day.

Grady Rivers had juggled his schedule as a Chicago police lieutenant so he could watch his son’s games. He had coached his son’s baseball team and he watched him became a prep star who went on to college success at Marquette before playing in the NBA.

At the time, Doc Rivers said his father was a tough subject for him to discuss. He hadn’t had time to reflect on his father’s death during that season, but he said he thought about him often.

Rivers and his wife, Kris, have two grown sons and a daughter who frequently attend Clippers’ games. Their other son, Austin, plays for the Clippers; he is the first player in NBA history to play for his father.

Erik Spoelstra on Dwayne Wade’s final shot: ‘He got fouled’

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The Hornets escaped Miami with a two-point Game 5 win yesterday, but not before roughing up Dwyane Wade on his final shot.

Cody Zeller and Courtney Lee defended Wade’s attempted putback, and Wade fell to the floor after contact.

Enough contact to warrant a foul?

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, via Dave George of The Palm Beach Post:

“I don’t need to see it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked if he watched a replay on the crucial no-call. “He got fouled.”

Wade, via Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald:

“I haven’t looked at it,” Wade said. “It’s pointless now. There’s no reason for me to look at it. It’s not going to change anything. I thought I did. But it wasn’t called.”

Officials rarely blow the whistle in those closing moments, because they don’t want to decide the game – as if letting a foul go uncalled isn’t also deciding the game. I hate how the de facto rules change in crunch time, but everyone – including Zeller and Lee – knows the situation. That affected how Charlotte defended.

Should it have been a foul? It’s close. I think Zeller was clean, but it appears Lee got his hands too much on Wade.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Last Two Minute Report says after the NBA reviews the play from multiple angles.

There’s a less suspense about Spoelstra’s fate. He’ll probably get fined.

Warriors, despite dropping game, historically dominant in series win over Rockets

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The Rockets stunned the basketball world.

By beating the Warriors once.

With a Game 3 upset, Houston upended the widely held assumption that Golden State would dominate a first-round sweep. But that altered only the series’ length, not the Warriors’ preeminence.

Golden State outscored the Rockets by 94 points in its 4-1 victory – a combined point difference topped by only one four-game sweep in NBA history.

Overall, the Warriors’ +94 ranks fourth among all series. The Thunder (who outscored the Mavericks by 91) and Spurs (who outscored the Grizzlies by 88) also produced historically lopsided series in this year’s first round.

Here’s every series in which a team’s combined point difference was at least 70:

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Series Scores
2009 first round: DEN d. NOH, 4-1 113-84, 108-93, 93-95, 121-63, 107-86
2010 conference semifinals: ORL d. ATL, 4-0 114-71, 112-98, 105-75, 98-84
1986 first round: LAL d. SAS, 3-0 135-88, 122-94, 114-94
2016 first round: GSW d. HOU, 4-1 104-78, 115-106, 96-97, 121-94, 114-81
2016 first round: OKC d. DAL, 4-1 108-70, 84-85, 131-102, 119-108, 118-104
2001 conference finals: LAL d. SAS, 4-0 104-90, 88-81, 111-72, 111-82
2016 first round: SAS d. MEM, 4-0 106-74, 94-68, 96-87, 116-95
1971 conference semifinals: MIL d. SFW, 4-1 107-96, 104-90, 114-102, 104-106, 136-86
2008 first round: BOS d. ATL, 4-3 104-81, 96-77, 93-102, 92-97, 110-85, 100-103, 99-65
1987 first round: LAL d. DEN, 3-0 128-95, 139-127, 140-103
1989 conference semifinals: PHO d. GSW, 4-1 130-103, 122-127, 113-104, 135-99, 116-104
1948 semifinals: PHW d. STB, 4-3 58-60, 65-64, 84-56, 51-56, 62-69, 84-61, 85-46
2013 first round: SAS d. LAL, 4-0 91-79, 102-91, 120-89, 103-82
1978 conference semifinals: PHI d. NYK, 4-0 130-90, 119-100, 137-126, 112-107
2015 first round: CHI d. MIL, 4-2 103-91, 91-82, 113-106, 90-92, 88-94, 120-66
1980 conference semifinals: BOS d. HOU, 4-0 119-101, 95-75, 100-81, 138-121
2009 conference semifinals: CLE d. ATL, 4-0 99-72, 105-85, 97-82, 84-74
1984 conference semifinals: LAL d. DAL, 4-1 134-91, 117-101, 115-125, 122-115, 115-99
1973 conference finals: LAL d. GSW, 4-1 101-99, 104-93, 126-70, 109-117, 128-118
2014 NBA Finals: SAS d. MIA, 4-1 110-95, 96-98, 111-92, 107-86, 104-87
2012 first round: MIA d. NYK, 4-1 100-67, 104-94, 87-70, 87-89, 106-94
1996 conference semifinals: UTA d. SAS, 4-2 95-75, 77-88, 105-75, 101-86, 87-98, 108-81

The Grizzlies’ injuries obviously contributed to the Spurs’ success. San Antonio probably would’ve won the series regardless, but it’s far less likely three of the games would’ve been cakewalks. Perhaps, the Mavericks could’ve put up more of a fight against the Grizzlies with more Chandler Parsons, Deron Williams and J.J. Barea.

Of course, injury also affected the Warriors. Imagine how badly they would’ve beaten Houston if Stephen Curry were healthy the whole series.

In the end, the Rockets played like a team ready for vacation, and Golden State was good enough to take – big – advantage.

(This post was updated to include Oklahoma City’s win over Dallas.)

DeAndre Jordan (!) drives from 3-point arc to dunk on Mason Plumlee (video)

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, right, goes in for a dunk over Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee during the second half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Trail Blazers won 108-98. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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DeAndre Jordan drove just three times for a basket all regular season, according to the NBA.

But if Mason Plumlee is going to give him all that space and turn his head… This turned into Jordan’s ball-handling vs. Jordan’s dunking, and Jordan’s dunking won – all over Plumlee.

Even in a Clippers loss, this was pretty spectacular.

Courtney Lee hits big 3 to help Hornets pull out win over Heat

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For Courtney Lee, massages apparently double as bible studies, and his dual session yesterday proved useful.

Lee scored the final points – a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left after looking limber while extending the possession with an offensive rebound – in the Hornets’ 90-88 Game 5 win over the Heat on Wednesday.

“She was explaining faith, and it was like just believe in something that you can’t see,” said Lee, who was who was 1-for-8 before his final attempt. “And like you said, it’s not my best shooting performance. I felt like I couldn’t make a shot. But the biggest one went in.”

You couldn’t see it when Miami started 4-for-4 with every basket coming at a rim protected by Al Jefferson and Frank Kaminsky. You couldn’t see it when Dwyane Wade (25 points) scored repeatedly against tough Lee defense down the stretch. You couldn’t see it when Lee missed a fastbreak layup – that Wade might have gotten away with goaltending – with just over a minute left.

Yet, Charlotte – which entered the league as an expansion franchise in 1988, moved to New Orleans in 2002, reemerged as the Bobcats in 2004 and changed its nickname back to the Hornets in 2014 – leads Miami 3-2 and is one win from its first-ever best-of-seven series victory. The Hornets, who hadn’t won a single playoff game until Saturday since reentering the NBA as the Bobcats, can close the series at home in Game 6 Friday.

The team leading a best-of-seven series 3-2 has won 85% of the time.

How Charlotte earn this advantageous position? Shooting below 40%, barely offensively rebounding (by design) and attempting a series-low (for either team) 15 free throws.

But the Hornets bombed away from outside, making 12-of-24 3-pointers, and made the key plays. Marvin Williams (17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals) came up big, especially defensively. Nicolas Batum, who’s playing hurt and looked it, missed his first four shots then hit two big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. And Lee – as he did in Game 4 – grabbed a clutch offensive rebound.

With three straight wins, Charlotte has seized loose control of this series. The Hornets have faith.

One more win, and everyone will have no choice but to believe.