LOS ANGELES — To a man, the Clippers tried not to blame the officials for their Game 5 loss… but you could tell they wanted to.
“I don’t complain much,” Doc Rivers said, in the quintessential line that tells you complaints are coming. “I thought we got some really tough calls tonight. Some brutal calls. The travel on Blake (Griffin), the goaltend on Matt (Barnes), which wasn’t a goaltend. You think about the playoffs, and they’re single-possession games. Those possessions those were crucial. J.J. (Redick’s) foul that got him (fouled) out, J.J. didn’t touch anyone.
“It’s not why we lost, but those were big plays for us.”
The referees are never the sole reason a team loses, that includes the Clippers on Tuesday night. In this case, the Clippers were 1-of-14 from three, and DeAndre Jordan tipped in a ball over the cylinder that could have had Los Angeles up with seven seconds to go. (After the game Jordan admitted touching the ball.) There were other plays they missed.
But the Clippers felt the calls in the fourth quarter didn’t go their way and robbed them of some opportunities. They were very frustrated as a team. And they have a point, plenty of calls didn’t go their way that should have — Jamal Crawford got called for bodying Tony Parker on the baseline when Parker hooked his arm around Crawford and pulled him into his body. Rivers was right about the Matt Barnes goaltend, and the Blake Griffin travels being poor calls.
Then there was the technical on Chris Paul, which confused Rivers and the Clippers players — and ended up being costly late.
“I thought if anything, (the technical foul) was a delay of game,” Paul said after the game. “In the other 82 games, it would have been a delay of fame but they didn’t call it.”
While the calls didn’t go their way, the Clippers got frustrated and at moments flustered in a way the Spurs simply don’t when they don’t get the breaks.
“We have to give credit to the Spurs. We’ve got to play through our mistakes,” Paul said.
“I’ll be frustrated all night…” Rivers said. “There’s nothing wrong with frustration. I have no problem with guys being frustrated, you have 48 hours or whatever to get over it, and we will.”
They need to get over it by tip off Thursday night — they can’t afford to have a hangover from this game, fall behind in San Antonio and play catch-up. The Spurs don’t want to make another flight back to Los Angeles, they want to close the game out so Saturday nights they can go to watch Mayweather vs. Pacquiao parties on Saturday. You can be sure the Spurs will bring it.
Can the Clippers?
“Yeah, it’s a gettable game,” Blake Griffin said. “It’s not going to be easy by any means, this is what they do. They’re a great team, a well-coached team, and they’ve been in this situation before. But we’ve also been in tough situations. We’ve also played in some tough games, some games on the road that we needed to win, and we did.
“I expect us to be ready.”