As impressive as it was to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder comeback from a definite loss in the final minutes of game 5, that ending was an equal embarrassment to the NBA’s referees and to the pressure handling skills of Chris Paul, completely falling apart when it mattered the most. The Thunder won 105-104 thanks to Russell Westbrook hitting 3 free throws he shouldn’t have gotten, taking a 3-2 lead in the series.
The Clippers held a 101-88 lead with four minutes to go. From that moment on, the wrong tactics of closing out the game and too many mistakes from Paul, who seemed close to perfect in terms of avoiding them the entire game, lost the game for the Clippers. With 49 seconds left, Chris Paul hit a huge dagger by floating through the air with a hand in his face to give the Clippers a 104-97 lead. That should have been it.
But Kevin Durant, having a terrible game (6-of-22 from the field) hit a 3-pointer everyone knew was going to come, making it a four-point game. It was Durant again with a layup after a Jamal Crawford miss to make it a two point game. Panic took over and Chris Paul got the ball with 17 seconds left. Instead of taking the foul Russell Westbrook was going for, Paul tried to get away from him, resulting in a turnover.
The ball got to Reggie Jackson. Matt Barnes was able to put his hands on the ball and Jackson was the one who clearly threw it out of bounds. However, referees, with the help of a replay, got the decision wrong. How? That’s not quite clear, but apparently clear eye sight doesn’t replace poor judgement and letting the home crowd and other factors get to you. But the referees weren’t done making mistakes, or influencing the game.
With 6.4 seconds left in the game, Russell Westbrook took a terrible shot. Somehow, someone saw Chris Paul barely touching Westbrook, who didn’t even hit the rim. A gift-wrapped three shots from the line that Westbrook calmly hit to give the Thunder a win they didn’t deserve. Doc Rivers yelling didn’t help. Chris Paul attacking the rim was the right decision, but like in the loss to the Warriors when the playoff began, he lost the ball and the game, now fighting elimination in game 6, although it should have been the other way around.