The endgame between the Houston Rockets and LA Clippers -- already chippy throughout the Rockets' 102-98 win -- took an unexpected turn when Clippers coach Doc Rivers earned an ejection ... with his son (and Rockets reserve guard) Austin waving him off.
Rivers had previously called a timeout with the intention of using his coach's challenge, but did so after the 30-second window had closed. At that point, he was informed the challenge couldn't take place, but the timeout would be restored.
Soon after, James Harden nailed a stepback 3-pointer with 1:31 remaining, giving Houston a 95-88 lead, and Patrick Beverley picked up a technical foul following an interaction with Tony Brothers. With play stopped and Harden taking the resultant free throw, the referees and Doc Rivers began discussing the Clippers' remaining number of timeouts.
Play nearly resumed before the conversation between Rivers and Brothers escalated, at which point Austin Rivers could be seen just behind Brothers gleefully forming the ubiquitous 'T' signal as if imploring the refs to call a technical foul. It was whistled in short fashion, Austin began waving goodbye, a second tech followed and Austin made a 'call me' gesture toward Doc as his father exited the court.
Harden then made the two free throws that resulted in Doc Rivers' ejection to push the margin to 98-88.
Doc Rivers said after the game that he was upset with the officials because of a mix up with the number of timeouts. He said that he tried to challenge a play but that it was past the 30 seconds allotted after a play in which to make a challenge. So they told him he didn’t burn a timeout on the challenge and he had two remaining. His ejection came after they said he was out of timeouts when he called the timeout where Beverley received his technical.
"I'm fine with [not having the timeout] if they had told me," Doc Rivers said. "But the officials can't tell me I have my timeout back, and then have me use it and tell me after the fact you don't have it. To tell me after the fact, that was big!
“We didn’t deserve to win with the way we were playing right now offensively or defensively but mistakes like that cannot happen on this level. That was awful and the response was to throw me out? I didn’t swear. I just said: ‘This is nuts.’ ”
The pool reporter's interview with Brothers confirmed that Doc Rivers was "incorrectly informed [the Clippers] would retain their timeout" following the uninitiated challenge. Brothers then approached Rivers to correct the number upon a timeout being called following the Harden 3, and Rivers took exception. Brothers claimed Rivers "was given an opportunity to gain his composure" but came out on the floor, resulting in the first tech. After telling Brothers "I don't care" and staying on the floor, the ejecting technical was issued.
In his on-court interview after the game, Austin Rivers said: "Get him out of here, man. Got to get him out of here. I don't know ... that made my night, though, I'm not gonna lie. We got the win. My dad got thrown out. It was a good night."
After the game, Austin Rivers told reporters he "knew it was coming" once he saw Doc Rivers started blinking rapidly during the argument. "I doubt we'll go to dinner or anything like that. He actually is sensitive to stuff like that, so we'll see what happens. But I love him. It was a really good moment though. I enjoyed it a lot, I'm not going to lie to you. I really did enjoy that. It was fun."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.