LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) Clippers coach Doc Rivers hadn’t changed his opinion one day after declaring the Clippers “were robbed” on that call[Barnes and Jackson], although he said he won’t file any formal protest. The NBA issued a statement Wednesday night saying the call was made correctly in the absence of clear evidence to change it on replay review.
“It’s a judgement call,” said Matt Barnes during Thursday’s shoot-around. “You go to look at the review and you see what the world see’s, it sometimes doesn’t go that way.”
After three weeks of a circus atmosphere around the Clippers, Rivers still believes his young team has gathered enough resilience to force the series back to Oklahoma City for a deciding game. The Clippers played 43 outstanding minutes in Game 5 to reach the brink of what could have been a benchmark victory in a shift of the Western Conference hierarchy, only to let it slip away.
“I feel this is our destiny,” Barnes added. “This is another bump in the road. Its a crazy season, fun season. A lot of unfortunate events before the playoffs, but it’s bringing us closer and it will be a great story at the end.”
Rivers was fined $25,000 for his comments against the refs, but the players say they’ll stand by their first-season coach.
“We always have coach’s back,” Jamal Crawford said. “He always had our backs all way through.”
The Thunder traveled to the West Coast on Wednesday with a bit of house money after the comeback by Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who combined for 17 of Oklahoma City’s 19 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes while Los Angeles fumbled, stumbled and finally crashed. Oklahoma City could advance to its third Western Conference final in four years with a victory in Game 6.
But the Thunder also recall their own collapse in Game 4 at Staples Center, where they blew a 16-point lead with nine minutes left last weekend. Game 5 told coach Scott Brooks plenty about his team’s tenacity.
“I like the fact that we did that after the game before,” Brooks said. “We had a lot of opportunities to win that game.”
Neither team has been significantly better in this series: Los Angeles has cumulatively outscored the Thunder 540-539 through five games, with Oklahoma City’s two-man offensive game countering the Clippers’ more balanced attack.
But even after the exhaustion of a seven-game first-round series with Golden State and the continuing drama surrounding owner Donald Sterling’s lifetime ban, the Clippers’ leaders think they’ve still got more fight.
“I think we’ve done a pretty good job this season and in the postseason of putting things in the past and just moving forward,” said Griffin, who leads the Clippers with 24.2 points per game in the series.