Houston guard Chris Paul’s return to the Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Clippers took a contentious turn late in the game Monday, with several heated exchanges and two ejections in the final minutes. And it apparently did not stop after the final whistle, as several Rockets players reportedly tried to enter the Clippers’ locker room seeking a confrontation.
The game, a 113-102 Clippers win, unraveled with about 3 1/2 minutes to go. The Rockets reacted furiously after a foul call against Paul, playing against his former team for the first time since being traded last summer, and Clippers center Blake Griffin appeared to exchange angry words with Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni near the sideline. D’Antoni later accused Griffin of making contact with him along the sideline on his way downcourt before the call on Paul, which led to the confrontation. The officials gave a double technical to D’Antoni and Griffin.
“After he said what he said, I said the same thing back,” Griffin told reporters after the game.
D’Antoni was asked what he had said to Griffin. He responded, “You mean after he hit me? Just that I didn’t appreciate him. But other than that, it’s good.”
Two minutes later, with Los Angeles ahead 113-100, Houston’s Trevor Ariza appeared to be making comments toward the Clippers’ bench when Griffin approached and had some words for Ariza. Both received technical fouls and were ejected.
“He asked me if I was still coming to his birthday party and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to try,’” Griffin said after the game, with a small smile.
But the tension bubbled over off the court after the game, as well. According to an ESPN report, several Rockets players tried to force their way into the Clippers’ locker room after the final whistle, and several security guards were seen outside the Houston locker room, according to The Associated Press.
Asked during his postgame news conference if he had seen anything in the hallway after the game, Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said: “I didn’t see anything in the hallway, but I saw it near our locker room, I’ll say that. Let’s put it like this: We were all — our team was in our locker room. That’s all I’ll say. I’ll let you do the rest of the investigation.”