The clock operator made an enormous mistake at the worst time at the end of Game 7 in what was a slugfest of a series between the Clippers and Spurs.
Chris Paul had just made his amazing shot to put the Clippers up two, but the Spurs had time left on the clock — one second. Gregg Popovich had Borris Diaw inbounding the ball on a play that sent several shooters out to the arc then had Kawhi Leonard roll to the rim for an alley-oop attempt. The referee hands the ball to Diaw, the players start moving and…
Buzzzzzz. The horn sounds to end the game.
Except the ball was still in Diaw’s hands — the clock operator messed up and started the clock when Diaw touched the ball, not a player on the court.
After the game, Popovich said that mistake allowed the Clippers to see what the final play was going to look like, it gave their defenders a heads up. You can see how hot he is in the video. As he should be.
When the actual play ran Matt Barnes read the alley-oop attempt and, playing free safety, came over and swatted the pass away, ending the game. Did he get there a step quicker because he saw the play start once before? Who knows. As Popovich admitted as well after the game, the odds of success on a one-second play at the end of a game are slim to start.
But that screw up certainly didn’t help.
What matters now is that the Clippers win and advance to the second round.