An irate Doc Rivers stormed into his postgame press conference with little need for questions from the awaiting media.
In a wild game and unbelievable finish on Tuesday night – eventually resulting in a 105-104 comeback Thunder win – there were a batch of tough, questionable calls. But to Rivers, one stood out.
With 13 seconds left, after Russell Westbrook knocked the ball away from Chris Paul, Reggie Jackson picked it up and drove the lane for a potential game-tying layup. But as Jackson went up, Matt Barnes seemed to smack him in the back of his hand. Jackson lost the ball out of bounds.
Referees went to review the call. Replays seemed to indicate it going off Jackson. But officials gave the ball to OKC, enraging the Clippers sideline and leading a furious Rivers to rant postgame.
“Everybody knows it was our ball,” Rivers started. “I think the bottom line is they thought it was a foul, and they made up for it.”
Moments after the play, the Thunder inbound led to another questionable call – this one a Paul foul that led to three Russell Westbrook game-winning free throws. But Rivers remained locked in on the out-of-bounds decision as the game-decider.
“We got robbed because of that call,” Rivers said. “Everybody in the arena saw it. Everybody was shocked when they said Oklahoma City. That was our ball, whether it was a foul or not, it was. But they didn’t call it.”
Rivers went on to blame the replay system and refer to a call in the Clippers’ last series, where a Golden State foul call was ignored on replay and the Warriors were given the ball. This time, in a reverse spot, he got a reverse call and a similarly frustrating result.
“My thinking was I was pissed,” Rivers said. “I don’t think that’s working the officials, that’s being honest with the officials. I love them. I think all three of those officials are terrific officials, but on that call, they got it wrong. That’s a game-defining and possibly series-defining call, and that ain’t right.”
In the final 40 seconds, L.A. made a ton of mistakes, including two Chris Paul turnovers and a Jamal Crawford miss too early in the shot clock. And Rivers was quick to blame those lapses
“They made a horrendous call,” Rivers said. “But at the end of the day we created the situation. We put them in the situation by the turnovers, the bad fouls, the non-fouls, so we did a lot ourselves to not win the game.”
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said he didn’t know who it was off, but: “One of the things I know – Reggie did get fouled.”
After the game, the officials released a statement to a pool reporter, saying that the crew only saw two views of the play – an overhead angle and an under-the-basket angle – with neither conclusive.
“When it’s inconclusive, we have to go with the call that was on the floor,” the statement read.
But that won’t do much to appease Rivers and his Clippers team, who after a Game 4 miracle win suffered an equally crazy Game 5 collapse and now head back to Los Angeles down 3-2.
“I’ll release the memo: They blew the call,” Rivers said. “That’s the memo.”