The first round series — that, in a just world, wouldn’t be a first round series — between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers somehow managed to one-up itself Tuesday night, as Game 5 at Staples Center came down to the wire. Aside from poor free throw (hack-a-Jordan played a key role in that) and three-point shooting by the Clippers, it matched the intensity of Games 1 and 3 of the series.
The Spurs went up seven late in the fourth quarter, but a crunch time charge by the home team to cut it to one before a badly-missed Danny Green three-point attempt gave the Clippers a chance at a game-winning shot. That attempt came in the form of a Blake Griffin floater, and the ball bounced around the rim before being tapped home by DeAndre Jordan. Except Jordan tapped it in too soon. The ball was still on the cylinder, and the referee signaled for basket interference.
The interference call allowed the refs to review it and confirmed that Jordan had touched the ball. Because the NBA is not FIBA (where touching the ball above the rim is legal), the basket didn’t count, and the Spurs were awarded possession. Danny Green missed the second of two free throws, but the Clippers — out of timeouts anyway — failed to secure the rebound, and Kawhi Leonard sealed the deal with two free throws.
Now, this begs the question: why didn’t Blake just lob it to DeAndre in the first place? Tony Parker was the only body on DeAndre near the rim, and the Clippers had been tossing lobs all night, including a clutch hookup from Blake to DeAndre just a few possessions prior. It’ll be one of many things to think about as the series shifts back to San Antonio Thursday night for Game 6.
One more item of note, though: if the series goes the distance, Game 7 will coincide with the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, so if it comes down to that, now is the time to invest in a second screen.