(Reuters) With the Los Angeles Clippers celebrating a win over former teammate Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets on Monday night, the mood changed swiftly in the locker room when Rockets Trevor Ariza, James Harden, Gerald Green and Paul entered through a back corridor at Staples Center seeking to confront Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin.
ESPN reported tempers were high and Rockets players were looking for Rivers in particular after Los Angeles won a fifth consecutive game, 113-102.
“We were where we were supposed to be,” Griffin said. “We were in our locker room. So whatever happens over there, I mean, we can’t control what anybody else does. We control what we did. Everybody was in our seats. That’s it. You should ask them.”
The game went from chippy to full contact with fuses lit on both sides. Paul, who spent six seasons with the Clippers and was honored with a video montage before the game, lost his cool in the fourth quarter and the Rockets indicated Rivers, who did not play, was the key instigator. According to Houston players
interviewed by ESPN, Rivers was shouting expletives and challenging the
Rockets while wearing a suit on the bench.
Paul would not share what he shouted at the Clippers’ bench, but it didn’t appear to be pleasant.
“I don’t know. You probably got it. With all the cameras in there, you can probably tell me what I said,” Paul said. “Whatever it was, I’m sure my momma will let me know.”
In addition to Rivers, DeAndre Jordan was out for the Clippers. Harden also did not play as he recovers from a hamstring injury suffered Dec. 31.
With under four minutes remaining in the game, Griffin scored and was fouled by Paul.
D’Antoni went ballistic, as did Paul, and both received technical fouls.
Two minutes later, Griffin sparked another fracas when he spiked the ball with full force off the back of Eric Gordon to save it from going out of bounds.
The play led to technical fouls on Ariza and Rivers, both of whom were