NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, May 15th (All times Eastern)
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder (3-2) at (3) Los Angeles Clippers (2-3), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder will try to advance past the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night when Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals takes place from the Staples Center.
The Clippers will try to advance past the call that went a long way in deciding Game 5.
Before the call, the Thunder overcame a 13-point deficit with four minutes to play and outscored the Clippers 8-0 in the final 49 seconds to earn a 105-104 victory.
The win put them one game away from reaching the Western Conference Finals and setting up a date with the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs, who dispatched the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
But, back to "the call."
After league MVP Kevin Durant made a 3-pointer, then a layup in transition, OKC guard Russell Westbrook poked the ball loose from Clippers point guard Chris Paul near the sideline and Thunder guard Reggie Jackson ended up with it.
He dribbled into the paint and ran into Matt Barnes, losing the ball out of bounds. It looked pretty clear that Barnes did foul Jackson, but there was no such call and the ball appeared to go off Jackson's hands.
However, after awarding the ball to the Thunder, the officials deemed the replay wasn't conclusive enough to change possession back to the Clippers.
"Everybody knows it was our ball. I think the bottom line is they thought it was a foul and made up for it," said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, who was so sure his team would get the ball following the replay, he was diagramming an offensive set, not a defensive one. "We got robbed."
Putting aside the controversial call, the Clippers, especially Paul, did some dumb things down the stretch to give this one away.
Paul fouled Westbrook on a 3-point attempt on the high left side, and Westbrook made all three shots for the Thunder's first lead since midway through the second quarter.
Paul tried to split Jackson and Serge Ibaka with a dribble at the other end and lost the ball in the paint on the final possession of the game.
"You know we lost and it's on me," said Paul, who admitted he didn't think he fouled Westbrook on the 3-pointer. "We had a chance to win on the last play, we didn't get a shot off and that's just dumb. I'm supposed to be leader of the team."
Paul's admission notwithstanding, Rivers was still irate following the game.
"We did a lot of stuff ourselves to lose the game," Rivers said, "but at the end of the day, we have a replay system to look at plays. And I don't want to hear they didn't have (a good enough) replay. That's a bunch of crap and you know it.
"That could be a series-defining call, and that's not right."
Rivers could very well be right, but his counterpart on the Thunder sideline obviously had a different take.
"One thing I know is Reggie did get fouled," said OKC head coach Scott Brooks. "I couldn't tell on my replays (who the ball went off of). Maybe they have different replays than I have. On the four or five I saw I couldn't tell."
The league issued a statement backing the referees and calling the replays inconclusive.
Westbrook finished with 38 points, while Durant added 27. Westbrook finished 11-of-23 from the field and missed just two of his 16 foul shots, picking up the slack for Durant, who was 6-for-22 shooting, including 3-for-17 in the first three quarters as the Thunder mostly played from behind.
Blake Griffin had 24 points and 17 rebounds to lead Los Angeles and Paul added 17 points and 14 assists. Jamal Crawford scored 19 points off the bench and J.J. Redick had 16.
The Thunder won Game 3 in Los Angeles.
If needed, a Game 7 would take place Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
05/15 10:34:28 ET