MINNEAPOLIS – With the Clippers and the Timberwolves meeting for the second time in nine days, it seemed like a fair and logical question: Would Minnesota’s Rick Adelman be allowed to stroll to midcourt this time to call a timeout at a pivotal point in the game?
That’s what happened at Staples Center in the closing seconds of the Clippers’ 109-107 victory: Doc Rivers went nearly to center court before he got referee Tony Brown‘s attention to call time in the midst of L.A.’s possession. The move incensed Adelman as well as a lot of Wolves fans, who felt Rivers should have received a technical foul for strolling so far on the floor during play.
But the Clippers coach didn’t think twice about it at the time and, from the sound of it, wouldn’t hesitate to do the same thing again.
“If I can get out there, I will,” Rivers said about 90 minutes before tipoff Wednesday at Target Center. “There’s nothing you can do. It’s really a bad circumstance.
“One of the questions was, ‘Didn’t your players know to call a timeout?’ I said ‘No, I gave them a play to run.’ And in the middle of the play, I’m looking at the play and thinking, ‘This play’s not going to work.’ I needed a timeout. I tried to call a timeout.”
At that point, Rivers barged onto the court and got his timeout with 11.8 seconds left.
“There’s really nothing you can do about it — it’s on the opposite side of the floor. There should be no tech called on that, by the way – the worst that can be called is delay-of-game. But as long as you don’t run into anybody or touch anybody, there’s no way around it.”
Rivers said he was open to suggestions on alternatives, such as “give me a red button that I can blink.” He also said he understands an opposing coach objecting to the move. “If that had been Rick, I’d want him thrown out of the game. But me, I think I should be able to do it,” he said, laughing.
Rivers got away with a similar move during the 2010 Finals, when he helped the Celtics avoid a halfcourt violation late in Game 2. “It was almost the exact thing,” he said. “It’s tough on the refs, though. They should not be paying attention to me. … There’s nothing in the rule book, I don’t know what you do about it, but it’s a toughie.”
Actually there is: Rule No. 12, section V, article d(5), pertaining to Fouls And Penalties, Conduct:
A technical foul shall be assessed for unsportsmanlike tactics, such as … (5) A coach entering onto the court without permission of an official.
Adelman initially joked about Rivers’ bit of gamesmanship Wednesday. “I think that’s reserved for certain people. He’s got a lot more money than I have, so he didn’t care if he got a technical,” the Wolves coach said.
Except, of course, Rivers didn’t get T-ed up.
“I could not believe they just allowed that to go on,” Adelman said. “You can’t do that. We’ve talked about it at times. The coaches have, in the last couple years, stepped onto the court to call timeouts. And I’ve had two different discussions: one said no, you’re not supposed to do that.”
The Wolves coach also sounded surprised that Rivers was desperate to get the timeout called. “I couldn’t believe … why he was so mad,” Adelman said. “They had the [2-point] lead and they had the best point guard in the game [Chris Paul] with the ball.”