I have always been a firm believer that referees do not win or lose games, players do by their actions on the court or coaches might by their moves from the sidelines. After watching game five between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder I feel exactly the same way. Sure, there might a been a bad call with a handful of seconds to go in the match up, a call that Clippers coach Doc Rivers called “series defining”, and that is what most people are focusing about.
However the reality of the game was not about a play, but the last four plus minutes of it, where LA somehow forgot how to score. And while I saw plenty of complaining on social media, especially from the NBA conspiracy theorists, the bottom line is that if the Clippers had scored one extra basket in the last 260 seconds of the game they would be leading the series and going home for game six.
While I could even agree with coach Rivers about “being robbed”, the fact is that for the last third of the fourth quarter the Clippers stole from themselves a chance to win the game. The Clippers head coach said that…
“We made a comedy of errors. Having said that, we still have the right to win the game if the [call] says it’s our ball, and that didn’t happen. And that’s too bad. That’s too bad for us. We’ve got two more games to play, but that could be a series-defining call and that’s not right.”
In the last part of the game the Clippers played not to lose and that is the number one way to do exactly the opposite. They stalled and then where not in a good position to take a good shot as the clock ran down. They turned the ball over and over and over, which is the best way to give the opponents momentum.
But all of this is something that we have heard many times when one team loses a close game, especially when in the lead with a few minutes to go. What no one ever heard is a head coach proposing to take away replay. That to me this is totally absurd since the reality is that the usage of such devices has been a pro a lot more than a con. And for Doc Rivers to have spoken those words shows to me that he was quite upset over this and might have just spoken out of anger. Or at least I hope so.
Now for the Clippers, a team that has to deal with the Thunder on the court and their former owner and his estranged wife off of it, it’s win or go home tonight. While I like to see a game seven in this series, somehow I think that the League’s MVP is going to have a huge game and close out the series in Tinsel Town. My one hope is that we do not see any more calls needing video review and it’s going to be the players that will decide it, whatever the outcome is.