In the final seconds of the second quarter of Wednesday's game between the Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka got their arms entangled while trying to grab a rebound.
They wrestled for a few seconds, then Matt Barnes intervened and shoved Ibaka, who responded by trying to push Barnes while apparently preparing to throw a punch.
Ibaka and Barnes were ejected on the play, and Griffin was assessed a technical foul.
Then the real drama began.
After Barnes left the court, he sent this tweet from the locker room, which was later taken down because it included an epithet and a curse word: "I love my teammates like family, but I'm DONE standing up for these ...! All this ... does is cost me money."
"I think he was very emotional, down that he got thrown out, so I get that part," Rivers said of the tweet. "The choice of words, obviously that's a word that I'm not a fan of in all venues."
Both Chris Paul and Griffin claimed that they hadn't read Barnes' tweet, but they threw their support behind their teammate.
"This is less than two hours after this incident, so I think we should kind of let it cool down a little bit and then we'll see how everyone feels," Griffin said. "But we appreciate what Matt does for us, and he's a great teammate."
Paul took it a step further.
"One of the best teammates I've ever had since I've been in the league," Paul said of Barnes. "Matt has a big heart, he goes out there and competes every night, not scared of nothing, so he's good."
Though Paul praised Barnes, he also insinuated that Barnes' response may have been the wrong one.
"I think at times toughness can be mistaken in the form of being ready to fight and stuff like that," Paul said. "But toughness comes down to basketball. At the end of the day, ain't nobody in the NBA holding the world championship belt."
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