NBA playoffs: Jordan’s illegal tip-in costs Clippers in Game 5 loss

Game of the night: San Antonio Spurs 111, Los Angeles Clippers 107.

In a critical Game 5 battle with the series tied 2-2, a basket interference call on the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan with 4.3 seconds left helped the defending champion Spurs hold on and regain home-court advantage in the best-of-seven, first-round series on Tuesday night.

After a 7-1 run, the Clippers trailed 108-107 with 30 seconds left. The Spurs’ Danny Green missed a 3-pointer, setting up Los Angeles for a chance to take the lead following a timeout with 6.9 seconds to go.

Blake Griffin caught the inbounds pass at the corner of the foul line, took one step into the lane and floated the ball toward the basket. As the ball danced around the rim, Jordan tipped it in with 4.3 seconds remaining.

However officials ruled Jordan touched the ball while it was in the cylinder, negating the basket. The ruling was upheld after a video review.

"It was a dumb play," said Jordan, who sat at his locker long after the game ended. "I hit the ball. We did a good job fighting to put us in a situation to go up one. You can’t blame anybody on that but me. I tipped the ball."

Green increased the Spurs’ lead to 109-107 by making the first of two free throws. He missed the second, but Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard rebounded, was fouled and sank two free throws for the final score.

Griffin scored a game-high 30 and grabbed 14 rebounds, but missed two free throws with the Clippers trailing 108-105 with 39 seconds remaining. LA missed 16 total free throws, making 26 of 42. 

The series returns to Texas for Game 6 on Thursday, where the Spurs can clinch the right to face the Houston Rockets in the next round. But the way this series has gone, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Clippers force a Game 7 at Staples Center on Saturday.

Most gut-wrenching Clippers moment: Jordan’s basket interference on a shot that likely would have gone in without his help and would have given LA the lead with just seconds to go:

Best display of hubris: The Houston Rockets came into their closeout game against the Dallas Mavericks feeling confident enough to wear funeral black to the stadium for Game 5. This is never a good look, and it would’ve been worse had Houston not won and closed out the series 4-1 with a 103-94 victory.

Most thunderous open-court dunk: Dallas’ Al-Farouq Aminu has made himself a lot of money in this series. His name means "the chief has arrived" in his native Nigeria, and that phrase seemed appropriate when he did this:

Best at stunting on his haters: Houston’s Josh Smith. The oft-criticized wingman thrived for the second time in this series, scoring 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

Best AAU hookup: Smith and Dwight Howard, evoking some old buddy ball from their glory days as high school teammates in Atlanta:

Most controversial tweet: The Rockets’ official team account made this post toward the end of the contest, only to remove it. Apparently it irked some Dallas players:

Most bodacious pregame outfit: Clippers’ Chris Paul. The ensemble speaks for itself:

Most Lob City lob: This, too, speaks for itself … and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer’s face speaks for it, too:

Most illustrative gesture: Glen “Big Baby” Davis of the Clippers acted out how this frenetic nail-biter made us all feel:

Most absurd shot: Boris Diaw came to life in the fourth quarter for the Spurs, making a string of game-saving savant plays that included this dazzler: