LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes his $25,000 fine for criticizing officials is money well spent.
In fact, two people on the Clippers’ front-office staff volunteered to help Rivers pay the bill after he ripped a key call in Los Angeles’ 105-104 loss in Oklahoma City on Tuesday in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series.
“My assistant, Ann Marie, got two calls from employees downtown that wanted to do a payroll deduct of $100 each to help me pay for the fine, which we obviously denied,” Rivers said with a grin.
The NBA levied the fine several hours before the Clippers faced playoff elimination in Game 6 against Oklahoma City at Staples Center on Thursday.
“I thought it was deserved,” Rivers said. “It’s one of the rare times you actually earned one. I don’t mind that.”
Rivers still hasn’t changed his opinion of a last-minute call that abetted the Thunder’s comeback from a 13-point deficit in the final 3:53 of Game 5. The veteran coach criticized the officials’ reasoning while claiming the Clippers “were robbed” — and he hasn’t backed down from that assessment.
The Clippers had a two-point lead with 14 seconds left when Chris Paul made a turnover while attempting to draw a shooting foul. Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson then drove the lane and went up for a shot while defended by Matt Barnes, who appeared to hit Jackson’s hand.
No foul was called as the ball flew away from Jackson and out of bounds with 11.3 seconds left. But officials awarded the ball to the Thunder and upheld their call on video replay.
NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn issued a statement Wednesday affirming the officials’ call.
“In order to reverse the call made on the court, there has to be ‘clear and conclusive’ evidence,” Thorn’s statement said. “Since no replay provided such evidence, the play correctly stood as called with the Thunder retaining possession.”
Rivers was irate on the sideline, repeatedly screaming “That’s our ball!” at the officials. Oklahoma City rallied to win on three free throws by Russell Westbrook and another turnover by Paul in the final seconds.
Paul was downcast and discouraged when the Clippers returned to Los Angeles, but the All-Star point guard perked up in the hours before Game 6, Rivers said.
“The guys who know him here, you know he’s very intense, very aware,” Rivers said of Paul. “Sometimes you wish he wasn’t. … I thought today he was so much better. He’s a gamer. He’ll be ready.”