(Reuters) – Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has been fined $25,000 by the National Basketball Association for public criticism of officiating, the league said on Thursday.
Rivers said the Clippers got “robbed” of a win on Tuesday when a call went against them late in a 105-104 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder that pushed them to the brink of playoff elimination.
The Thunder, who were down seven points with 49 seconds to play, benefited from an official’s call even though replays appeared to show the ball went out of bounds off their guard Reggie Jackson with 11.3 seconds left.
The ball was awarded by officials to Oklahoma City, and they stuck with the initial ruling after the play was reviewed.
The Thunder scored the last eight points of the game to snatch victory in front of a raucous home crowd and seize a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final.
Rivers, a calm voice of reason throughout the Donald Sterling saga which has sparked widespread emotional debate and at times has distracted the Clippers players, unsuccessfully protested the call before criticizing officials post-game.
“It was our ball,” Rivers told reporters. “Everybody knows it was our ball. The bottom line is they thought it was a foul and they made up for it.
“In my opinion, let’s take away the replay system. Because that’s our ball, we win the game. We got robbed because of that call.”
On Wednesday, the NBA said the official’s call in Tuesday’s Game Five and the instant replay review would stand as given because there was no ‘clear and conclusive’ evidence to warrant a reversal.
Later on Wednesday, during Clippers team practice, Rivers told reporters: “I was very upset last night, and rightly so, but you’ve got to move on.”
The Clippers will bid to stave of playoff elimination when they host the Thunder in Game Six on Thursday, a little more than two weeks after team owner Sterling was banned for life by the league and fined $2.5 million for making racist comments.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)