In the third quarter of Sunday’s 107-92 Clippers win over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, Matt Barnes and Aron Baynes were involved in a struggle for possession of the ball in the third quarter that helped shift the momentum toward the Clippers.
Barnes grabbed a ball that Baynes was holding. The whistle immediately sounded as the referees called a jump ball, but neither Barnes nor Baynes budged.
The two players continued struggling for the ball until they toppled over each other into the seats.
“It was two guys that, I don’t know, maybe they thought it was a fumble and if you kept the ball you got possession,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “I didn’t know what was going on there.”
The crowd roared. Clippers and Spurs players ran over to the scene, but Barnes sprinted in the opposite direction with his hands up in the air, in an attempt to show the referees that it was a clean play and to avoid further confrontation.
That in and of itself was smart of Barnes considering the Clippers had 57 technical fouls this season, while the Spurs have only had 50 over the past five seasons. Barnes finished the season with the fourth-most technicals in the league (13).
“I liked them both,” Rivers said. “Neither one of them was dirty. They just held onto the ball and neither one of them wanted to let go. They were having a man contest and I thought it was pretty interesting.”
After that play, the Clippers went on a 17-10 run, turning a six-point lead into a 15-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter. In the final 12 minutes, the Clippers pushed their lead to as much as 20 points.
Rivers credited that play with providing the Clippers with a much-needed spark.
“Any of those plays when you’re at home gets the crowd into the game and gives you energy,” he said.
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