One shot or one play doesn’t necessarily determine the outcome of a game, coaches and players like to say, because there are so many shots and plays during the course of a game.
But there was one shot Thursday night, by Portland’s Nicolas Batum, that had the Clippers talking after the game, all of them lamenting how they should have done something different to prevent the game-tying three-pointer with 5.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Coach Doc Rivers said he should have had his team commit a foul to put one of the Trail Blazers at the free-throw line.
“We gave up a three at the end. That can’t happen,” Rivers said Thursday night after the game. “No. 1, we should have fouled. That’s on me. We had too much indecision. . . . I always foul. And the one time I don’t, they score. That’s why I always foul. So that one is on me.”
Blake Griffin said he should have switched onto Batum.
“That’s on me,” Griffin said. “I’ve got to do a better job on that last play. I’ve got to get up into Batum and make that switch a little bit harder.”
Chris Paul said he should have switched onto Batum.
“That three-pointer there at the end, I should have switched out on Batum,” Paul said. “Then I had a great shot to win the game there. We shouldn’t have even been in the overtime.”
Here’s how the play went:
With 9.3 seconds left and the Clippers leading, 101-98, Batum took the ball out of bounds in front of the Clippers’ bench with Griffin defending him.
Batum inbounded to LaMarcus Aldridge, who handed the ball back to a curling Batum. Aldridge then set a screen on Griffin, who had taken one step backward on defense before he was screened.
As Batum took the first of two dribbles, Damian Lillard, who was being guarded by Paul, set a high screen on DeAndre Jordan, who was guarding Aldridge.
By the time Paul realized that Batum was about to pull up for the three-point attempt at the top of the arc, it was too late for him to recover enough on defense. Batum drilled the 26-footer to tie the score at 101-101.
The Clippers still had 5.3 seconds left, but Paul missed a 17-foot jumper. The Clippers eventually lost in overtime, 116-112.
“We’ve talked about it already now a couple of times,” Griffin said about what should have happened on the Batum play. “Like I’ve said, we’ve just got to learn from it and move on.”
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