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Clippers' Doc Rivers says team still dealing with Sterling fallout

Professional BasketballLos Angeles ClippersDoc RiversDonald SterlingNBASportsBasketball
Clippers aren't through dealing with Donald Sterling
Doc Rivers says issues will be with team throughout the playoffs
Clippers can close out series against the Warriors on Thursday

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said he told his players that they will have to deal with fallout from the NBA's banning Clippers owner Donald Sterling for as long as they are in the playoffs.

"We're not through this," Rivers said.

The Clippers on Tuesday night won Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center, after learning in the morning that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had banned Sterling for life from the game for remarks in recordings that were released in the last few days.

Sterling also was fined $2.5 million by the NBA, and Silver wants other NBA franchise owners to force Sterling to sell the team.

The Clippers, who didn't practice Wednesday, lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can close it out by winning Game 6 on Thursday night in Oakland.

"Like I told my guys [Tuesday], this is going to be with us," Rivers said during a conference call Wednesday, referring to the Sterling ban. "'But let's just keep winning. Let's deal with it.' But it's not going anywhere. And you've just got to embrace that. That's just part of this year's playoffs for us.

"We don't have a manuscript or a rule book on how to deal with each issue that's going to come up. There will be more issues that we don't know about."

With Sterling's wife, Shelly, having attended Game 4 in Oakland on Sunday after the audio was released and Game 5 after the NBA's ruling, Rivers was asked if her continued presence at games could be another distraction.

"Yeah, it could be," Rivers said. "Obviously, if it was overbearing, it would be, let's be honest. That was an individual circumstance as far as the game [Tuesday] night, and even the [game] that she came to in Golden State.

"I wish I knew the right way on that one. I don't. ... I think either way would create a reaction.."

If the Clippers have to play Game 7 against the Warriors on Saturday at Staples Center, or if the Clippers advance to the second round of the playoffs, Rivers said, his team will still be dealing with the emotional strain of the Sterling case.

"We've just got to keep our focus as much as we can," Rivers said. "And if anybody is struggling with that, I told them to just let me know and we can find a way of how to deal with it individually."

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, after scoring a playoff career-high 25 points Tuesday night, talked about how relieved his teammates were by Silver's ruling.

He said most of his teammates first learned about a recording soon after it was released by TMZ on Friday night. In the recording, a man who the NBA determined was Sterling told a female friend he was upset she posted a picture on Instagram of herself next to Lakers legend Magic Johnson, and did not want to see her at games with black people.

"It's never going to go away," Jordan said. "But I feel like it [Silver's ruling] was definitely a weight lifted off our shoulders so we can just continue to focus on playing basketball.

"We're up 3-2. We've got to go there. We know how important this game is going to be."

Meanwhile, several wealthy investors have stepped up to say they are interested in buying the Clippers.

Rivers said, "No," when asked if he would like to get together with a group to buy the Clippers.

"My focus is completely on trying to figure out a way to eliminate the distractions," Rivers said. "I talk to our team a lot about a box, keeping your box clean. And right now all of our boxes are full. We've got to get some of the clutter out."

Etc.

Clippers reserve guard Jamal Crawford will be named the NBA's sixth man of the year for the second time in his 14-year career.

Crawford, 34, will become the fourth player in league history to win the award twice; he won his first with the Atlanta Hawks in 2010.

The NBA wanted to present Crawford the award before Game 5 at Staples Center, but did not because of the Sterling saga.

Crawford averaged 18.6 points per game during the 2013-14 regular season, third-highest on the team.

"He's deserving of it," Rivers said. "I don't know if there is a more lethal weapon in the league that you can bring off the bench."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter:@BA_Turner

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