It’s a team capable of winning the NBA title. Except the Clippers are down 3-2 to the Thunder, and the despondent little guy has to get over the self-loathing and come out ready for Game 6 Thursday night at Staples Center, with swords drawn and shields raised. If not, the series will end without returning to Oklahoma City.
“Got to keep playing, but this one’s bad,” Paul said. “It’s bad. To work that hard and to have the game and to give it away, I kind of pride myself on taking care of the ball and managing games toward the end. None of the guys could have did anything about it, it was just me.”
Love the attitude. Contrast that with Clipper coach Doc Rivers, who blamed the loss on officiating. Rivers was livid during the final fateful seconds and in the post-game, renouncing the officiating crew’s replay review ruling that allowed the Thunder to keep the ball with 11 seconds left. I don’t know what Rivers thought he saw. Sure, the ball looked like it could have gone off Reggie Jackson’s hand. But conclusive evidence? That wasn’t on the replays I saw on TNT or the OKC video board.
Replay is not a recount. Replay is an appeals court. If something egregious occurred, fix it. Otherwise, leave it alone.
Paul seemed to sense that. Paul seemed to know that the Clippers were done in by their own play down the stretch, just as the Thunder was done in by its own spotty performance as the Clips staged a mighty comeback themselves.
Rivers calmed down enough later to admit the Clippers were their own worst enemy.
“That’s a tough turnover for Chris,” Rivers said. “Obviously, he’s better than that and he doesn’t really make turnovers like that. When you think about how we lost the game, we turn over, we foul the shooter, we’re supposed to foul Durant before he gets the 3 off because we have a foul to give, then we get a bad call. There’s a lot of errors — most of them by us…
“We’ve been regrouping all year, so we’ll be ready to play when we get to LA. This one’s going to hurt. I’m sure guys are feeling bad. We took a lot of bad shots down the stretch, we tried to run the clock out instead of keep playing basketball. None of this would have happened if we had have taken care of business, but we didn’t.”
The Clippers didn’t. Not any great surprise.
Chris Paul didn’t. Bad surprise. Bad, bad, bad.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.