In a game that had already gotten more than a bit testy, we shouldn't have been surprised to see the demise of the Los Angeles Clippers come with still more drama—this time at the hands of not-to-be-messed-with referee Joey Crawford.
Crawford ejected Clippers point guard Chris Paul late in the fourth quarter of L.A.'s must-win Game 6 against the Memphis Grizzlies—a game they ended up losing 118-105—putting an end to commotion initially instigated by Clippers forward Matt Barnes. Barnes wasn't happy with a foul call, believing Grizzlies center Marc Gasol put on an acting job.
Paul took up his cause.
In a contest that was all but out of reach, Paul's frustration apparently translated into a few too many words with the official. Although, to be fair, you never really know what will push Joey's buttons.
Joey Crawford with the dagger.— Jared Wade (@Jared_Wade) May 4, 2013
And there's Joey Crawford doing Joey Crawford things.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) May 4, 2013
Joey Crawford, where amazing happens!— Jerry Zgoda(@JerryZgoda) May 4, 2013
Joey Crawford will be upset when he's not awarded the MVP.— Marcel Mutoni (@marcel_mutoni) May 4, 2013
CP3 should have known better. Then again, maybe he was ready to take a seat after losing control of a series that once seemed the Clippers' to lose.
He wasn't the first superstar in Los Angeles to experience the early exit.
Chris Paul and Dwight Howard finish their seasons in L.A. getting tossed out of clinching games.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 4, 2013
But he will be the last, at least in this postseason.
The episode marked the first playoff ejection in Paul's career, a somewhat fitting epilogue to a first-round series that never lived up to expectations the Clippers established for themselves during a franchise-best regular season.
The Clippers never found an answer for Memphis' big men, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who averaged a combined 38.1 points in the six-game series. The foul that started what became the Joey Crawford show occurred when Paul was attempting to help defensively on Gasol, a sign of just how desperate L.A. was to stop the Grizzlies' frontline.
Now, Paul will join Dwight Howard as one of this summer's premier free agents, leaving many to speculate about just how much we should read into the frustrating finale to what was otherwise a breakout season for the Clippers.
The Clippers should remain a talented outfit regardless of Paul's decision, but Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will be short one very valuable lob-thrower should he somehow find greener pasteurs.