Last night’s Clippers-Thunder Game 5 match-up ended in controversy and was followed by a Doc Rivers post-game tirade in regards to the spotty officiating down the stretch.
In short, the Clippers were ahead by 7 points with approximately 45 seconds remaining. Easy win at that point, right? Yes, except for the whole Kevin Durant thing. He drained a three, and after a Jamal Crawford missed layup, Durant converted a finger roll on the fast break to bring the Thunder within a single basket.
After inbounding the ball, Chris Paul was stripped near half court and the ball ended up back with Oklahoma City. Paul inexplicably fouled Russell Westbrook on a three point attempt from the left wing (the replay makes it tough to see much contact, but Paul’s contest was probably a bit too contest-y in that situation). The Thunder point guard calmly knocked down all three free throws to give his squad a one-point lead, and Paul capped off an unbelievably un-Paul-like sequence by turning the ball over right before the final buzzer.
In between the first Paul turnover and the foul on Westbrook, the Clippers’ Matt Barnes hammered Reggie Jackson across the left wrist and the ball flew out of bounds. No foul was called on Barnes, and the ball was clearly knocked out of bounds by Jackson’s right hand. The officials reviewed the play and rewarded the ball to the Thunder, leading everyone to believe that the solution was a make-up call of sorts for the missed foul call.
Problem is, Doc Rivers believed that the same exact situation was handled in the exact opposite manner in the Golden State series, also going against the Clippers. Rivers went on a rant in his post-game press conference and will surely be fined heavily by the league. We are still awaiting word as to whether or not the league will issue an apology for an apparent officiating mistake that helped to decide the outcome.
Of course, Paul playing like he did over the final handful of possessions is also a big story, one that would look a lot different in the media’s eyes if it was, say, Russell Westbrook that turned the ball over twice in the last minute and fouled a three-point shooter in a two-point game.
Elsewhere, news came down on Tuesday that Stan Van Gundy was likely to accept a position with the Detroit Pistons that includes full control over the basketball operations department in addition to being the head coach. Today, the Pistons have released an announcement that confirms Van Gundy’s role.
ESPN’s Marc Stein had reported a few weeks back that Van Gundy was not interested in the Wolves’ head coaching job, and despite the current roster being much better than Detroit’s, SVG’s decision is understandable given Love’s contract situation and what Van Gundy had to endure in Orlando a couple of years ago. Throw in the opportunity to run the show in Detroit from a personnel perspective, and Van Gundy was sold.
This is an excellent move by the Pistons, and it will be fun to see what he can do with an organization that has recently fallen on hard times. In the meantime, cross another name off the Wolves’ coaching wishlist….