Should CP3's buzzer beater have counted?
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – The Clippers were off Tuesday, but social media wasn’t.
One of the topics on Twitter was the suggestion that Clippers point guard Chris Paul pushed off Memphis Grizzlies defender Tony Allen at least a couple of times on his game-winning drive with one-tenth of a second left Monday night.
There was no call on the play, and Paul’s off-balance bank shot gave the Clippers a 93-91 victory and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.
At the end of the game, former Chicago Bulls scout Clarence Gaines accused Paul of three or four push-offs on Allen. His comment was retweeted by former Lakers and Bulls coach Phil Jackson:
Fouls are rarely called in the final moments of a close game, particularly in the playoffs, but Jackson seemed to suggest Paul got star treatment from the referees. But neither Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins nor Allen, one of the league’s best defenders, accused Paul of committing a foul. In fact, Allen took blame for not forcing Paul to drive left and use his off-hand.
On Tuesday, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of Paul: “He’s strong, he gets good leverage on guys, but it’s going to be physical. There could have been fouls called here and there. You’ve got to play through that stuff. You’ve got to control your emotions and understand it’s going to be physical. All you want from the referees is consistency from the beginning of the game to the end.”
Then Del Negro suggested it might have been Paul who got fouled, not the other way around.
“I think it was fine,” he said he said of the final play. “Chris made a great shot. Tony’s obviously a very good defender. Chris got bumped a couple of times but was still able to get the shot off.”
Del Negro’s future
Del Negro is in the final year of his contract as Clippers coach, and there’s been no indication the team intends to bring him back. Gary Sacks, the team’s vice president of basketball operations, told the Los Angeles Times that Del Negro has the support of the organization, although he didn’t say Del Negro will be back.
“Our head coach and his staff have done a terrific job here,” Sacks said. “They deserve a huge amount of credit for the way the team has played and the way our roster has been developed.”
Del Negro’s future could be tied directly to Paul, whom the Clippers are hoping to sign long term this offseason. Paul could make his return contingent on the head coach, and if it’s not Del Negro, the Clippers would have to comply or risk losing their point guard.
“I don’t think the organization works like that,” Del Negro said. “Obviously, Chris is a huge part of it, but all those decisions will be made after the season. Our focus is the playoffs, our focus is preparing as best we can for Game 3, and then as the playoffs go on, we’ll make adjustments. Then all those questions about myself and Chris will be answered at the end of the season.”