The bad blood between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors has been festering for quite some time now, and as the Clippers evened up the first-round series with a 138-98 Game 2 victory on Monday, the animosity only ratcheted up even more.
The heated Game 2 may not have been all that competitive in terms of score, but the competitive juices were clearly flowing throughout. There were several notable incidents, with the jawing match between Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal taking center stage.
Bad Blood Brewing
The incident occurred with the Clippers up 52-33 midway through the second quarter. After O'Neal was called for a foul on Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Rivers began exchanging words with the official who called the foul. O'Neal apparently took exception to whatever was said, and he began chewing out Rivers. The head coach responded in kind, and both men were hit with technical fouls:
Afterward, Rivers joked about the exchange of words, according to Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears:
"I kept telling him I loved him," Rivers joked. "I don't know what he was saying. It wasn't anything bad. Jermaine, I know him, he was talking and I told our guys just keep playing."
"We share a birthday," said Rivers, who coached O'Neal for a couple seasons in Boston. "Two Libras. Two stubborn fools."
O'Neal didn't have much time for jokes, highlighting how intense the rivalry is between the two teams:
"It's very intense right now," O'Neal said. "Everyone wants to win. Everybody is looking for that blood. This league is about trying to smell what the weakness is. I don't care if it's the scorekeeper - there are going to be scenarios where you are trying to find an edge and keep yourself going."
There were several other technicals handed out on Tuesday night. Stephen Curry picked one up after chucking his mouthguard to the floor in frustration over a lack of fouls called. In the fourth quarter with the game well out of hand, Warriors big man Marreese Speights delivered a forearm to Clippers big man Glen Davis, knocking Davis to the floor. Both players received technicals after a minor scrum.
After Speights' blow to Davis, the Clippers responded by running up the score, firing up three-pointer after three-pointer as the game drew to a close. Los Angeles took nine three-pointers in the fourth quarter despite the huge margin.
All of this comes after an intense Game 1 that featured plenty of frustration over the officials, with things culminating in Clippers star Blake Griffin dousing a Warriors fan with a cup of water, an act that may or may not have been deliberate.
The animosity can be traced back even further. Last season, Warriors head coach Mark Jackson stared down the Clippers' bench at the end of a blowout loss. This season, the two teams didn't share chapel during a Halloween game, a usual custom in the NBA. There were also several physical confrontations over the course of the year, and O'Neal and Griffin exchanged words outside the Clippers' locker room during the last regular-season meeting.
With the series tied and now shifting to the high-energy Oracle Arena, don't expect things to cool down anytime soon.