L.A. Clippers guard Austin Rivers did not lace them up on Monday when his team hosted the Houston Rockets — a game that ended on a sour note on and off the court.
Despite the Rockets, and particularly forward Trevor Ariza being viewed as the aggressor, the NBA league office’s investigation found that it was Rivers’ constant comments that instigated this behavior.
The Rockets players were filled with a greater animus for Rivers, sources told ESPN, because they insist that he had been especially belligerent from the bench in the late stages of the Clippers’ victory. Sitting out because of an ankle injury and wearing a suit, Rivers was reveling in Griffin’s dominant performance of 29 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Once Griffin became entangled with several Rockets, Rivers’ verbiage appeared to become more aggressive.
Players on the bench, injured or not, are often very animated, but the Clippers have had a reputation for being at times overly hostile toward visiting teams, the same way a notorious incident between Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green and now-retired forward Paul Pierce came about.
The playing for the Clippers, Pierce constantly tried to cheer on Griffin, while also putting down Green, and once the latter caught wind, the verbal spat commenced.
Rivers’ engagement with the Rockets wasn’t taken kindly and if the team was already frustrated with Griffin’s big night and the calls from the referees, the guard’s comments were the kerosene to the flame that started to ignite Staples Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.