Adam Silver's decision to drop the hammer on Donald Sterling likely saved Tuesday's postseason action, since the Warriors were prepared to walk out if they didn't like the decision. Elsewhere, the Bulls are done and Thunder-Grizzlies went down to the wire again.
100 - 99 3-2 MEM
Oklahoma City Thunder RECAP
Golden State Warriors RECAP
103 - 113 3-2 LAC
Los Angeles Clippers RECAP
5 things to know
We almost didn't have basketball
A massive league-wide player boycott was in the works before NBA commissioner Adam Silver made his announcement that the league was banning Clipper owner Donald Sterling for life and setting in motion a plan to remove him from ownership.
According to a report from Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News, the Warriors planned to go through warmups and the opening tip before their game with the Clippers and then walk off the floor together. Led by Stephen Curry, David Lee and Jermaine O’Neal, the Golden State players planned to enlist the Clippers to join them.Players’ Association vice president Roger Mason told reporters in Los Angeles that players in all three playoff games were also prepared to follow through with a boycott if the NBA didn’t come down strongly on Sterling.
Silver’s announcement that he was throwing the weight of the league at the Clipper owner preempted the boycotts and was met with widespread praise from players, owners, fans and media alike. So, congrats Donald, you racist old loon. You helped unite the league and bring the factions together. -Paul Flannery
We're destined to do this forever
If you didn't know any better, you might have thought the 20-point lead the Grizzlies held in the third quarter of Game 5 was the type of comfortable second half cushion that serves to drain a game of its crunch-time drama. If you've been paying attention to this series, you probably knew better.
The Thunder battled back -- of course they did -- to force the fourth straight overtime game in this shambolic mess of a series. There were several moments of frisson at the end, because we've come to accept nothing less in this matchup. It started with Russell Westbrook's steal-to-dunk to tie the game with four seconds left. It reached its peak when Joey Crawford iced Kevin Durant by stealing the ball away from the soon-to-be MVP before a second free throw attempt that would have tied the game. Crawford was making sure the scoreboard reflected both teams were in the bonus, but the timing and look-at-me-now manner in which he did it was custom made to incense anyone watching. Durant missing the freebie didn't help, either.
And then there was that ending. Gosh, that ending. Serge Ibaka put back a Kevin Durant miss just as the buzzer sounded in a play that was too close to call. Naturally, the only angle available was from the other side of the court. It was ruled no good and the Grizzlies survived. Once again, the nerves of anyone watching weren't so lucky. -Ricky O'Donnell
All hail the Bulls
November 22 seems like so long ago for the Chicago Bulls. After losing Derrick Rose for the season to yet another knee injury during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Tom Thibodeau rallied his squad to one of the more memorable regular season campaigns of the 2013-2014 NBA season. Joakim Noah emerged as an MVP candidate, orchestrating the Bulls offense from the high post while simultaneously earning Defensive Player of the Year honors. Meanwhile, Thibodeau emerged as a kind of secret point guard wizard, changing D.J. Augustin from a Charlotte Bobcats also-ran into Chicago's leading scorer in the regular season. Taj Gibson broke out of his shell with room to breathe on the bench, and despite losing their All-Star guard in Rose, the Bulls quietly turned into a Cinderella story in the East. Chicago ended up with the No. 4 seed in the playoffs after many wrote them off for the season before Thanksgiving.
But unfortunately, all Cinderella stories have to end. As the night drew near, the Washington Wizards outperformed the Bulls not only on offense, but on defense as well. Marcin Gortat, Nene and Trevor Ariza were more than enough to stop the stagnating Bulls attack, and with John Wall and Bradley Beal to score the ball, the magical carriage of the first round eventually turned back into a pumpkin with a 4-1 series loss on Tuesday.
Let's applaud what the Bulls were able to accomplish once again without their star, but eventually, talent wins out. -Dane Carbaugh
A missed opportunity
On the court, the Warriors have to be seething. Game 5 was winnable. Through three quarters, Blake Griffin was 2-10, Chris Paul was 6-14 and a balanced Warriors effort had four players in double figures. Down five, there was plenty of juice for a late-game push.
Instead, that came from the Clippers. Griffin went to work on Draymond Green, scoring at will on the block. Jamal Crawford came alive for 11 fourth-quarter points, including one dandy of a righty scoop shot that spun off the glass. The Warriors couldn't get stops, and that in turn prevented them from getting Stephen Curry more than 10 shots. Warriors fans are likely complaining, but what can the coaching staff do when they're always taking the ball out of the net and the Clippers' defensive battery of Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan is locked in? The Clippers will gladly let Andre Iguodala take 15 shots to contain Curry.
There's still hope for Golden State, but Game 5 felt like a missed opportunity. -Mike Prada
A contrast in styles
With Oklahoma City down 20 points with a few minutes left in the third quarter, it didn't seem like any comeback was imminent. They quickly erased much of it with a 13-0 run with threes from Caron Butler and Kevin Durant, plus Serge Ibaka's and-1. Once they did, though, it was the same old Scott Brooks crunch-time woes, with Durant stuck in a corner while Russell Westbrook tries to do too much
This is the central paradox of the Thunder. The Thunder's athleticism and plentiful shooting talent make for a team that can go on damaging runs that can render many leads less imposing. Durant by himself, though hobbled by Tony Allen's terrific defense, can still get shots up over just about anyone from the perimeter, and they've got plenty of capable spot up shooters from point guards to even power forward if Ibaka is open enough. Add that to a defense that can overwhelm and force turnovers with frustrating fervor and you have a recipe for a team that can turn deficits around very quickly. But they can also be incredibly predictable, allowing teams to take away all of their gifts.
Memphis, conversely, is much more methodical with their offense and pace, which doesn't lead as often to such incendiary offensive showings. What it lacks in talent, it (attempts to) make up for with execution. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn't.
But such contrast is just another piece to why this series is so compelling. The two teams are polar opposites with different flaws. -Ben Swanson
Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Series tied 2-2 | 7 p.m., TNT AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors Series tied 2-2 | 7:30 p.m., NBATV Air Canada Center, Toronto, ON
Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets Portland leads 3-1 | 9:30 p.m., TNT Toyota Center, Houston, Texas