Coach Doc Rivers was irate after the Clippers' stunning 105-104 loss to the loss the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, but the game wasn't lost by a questionable late call.
"We were robbed," Rivers said in his postgame news conference, furious that the referees didn't award the ball to the Clippers with 11.3 seconds left on the clock, after reviewing the replay.
The ball seemingly went out of bounds off Reggie Jackson, although Matt Barnes clearly fouled him as well. Officials aren't permitted to take the foul into account while examining the replay.
On the following play, Chris Paul fouled Russell Westbrook's three-point attempt with 6.4 seconds left. Westbrook calmly sunk all three free throw attempts, putting the Thunder up by a point.
The Clippers' final attempt to score was foiled when Paul turned the ball over for the fifth time.
Even that wasn't Paul's biggest mistake. Heading into the final sequence, the Clippers held a 104-97 lead with 49.2 seconds left on the clock. Kevin Durant scored a quick five points to give the Thunder a chance.
Paul's decision to leap into the air in the backcourt, turning the ball over, after receiving the in-bounds pass with 13.9 seconds left on the clock made no sense at all.
Had he simply stood still, and held onto the ball, the Thunder would have given a foul. Paul would have had the chance to put the Clippers up 106-102 with a pair of made free throws.
Instead, the Thunder gained possession, leading to the questionable call and Westbrook's three-point attempt (and subsequent game-winning free throws).
Without Paul, the Clippers wouldn't have won 57 games this season. They wouldn't have advanced past the Golden State Warriors in the first round.
Paul's uncharacteristic mistakes in the final minute Tuesday were more damaging than the one questionable call that had the team up in arms.
"Everything that happened at the end is on me," Paul said after the game, taking responsibility for the loss.
Paul has an opportunity to redeem himself Thursday, when the Clippers have a chance to even the series.
Game 7, if necessary, will be held Sunday afternoon.
Twitter: @EricPincusCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times