With 5 minutes left in the first half, and L.A. already winning by 19 points, Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal wandered toward the Clipper bench. It was not O'Neal's first stroll in that direction. During a game in March, O'Neal also walked toward the Clipper bench while jawing with Griffin, and confronted him afterward outside the locker room. The two were quickly separated, but the exchange was remembered. O'Neal, a 17-year veteran who played for Rivers in Boston, was supposed to back up Andrew Bogut in this series. But Bogut broke a rib last week, thrusting O'Neal into the starting lineup, and he contributed greatly to the Game 1 win. Asked about his impact, Rivers recalled how O'Neal shot 20.5 percent for Miami in the 2010 playoffs and was unable to provide any offense for the Celtics in '10-11. "I guess he went to Germany with Kobe," Rivers cracked.
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A humorous sound bite took on a more serious tone as O'Neal ventured closer to the Clipper bench and Rivers shouted in his direction. They engaged in an extended argument, drawing a double technical foul, though Rivers seemed to do most of the talking. He was right that he didn't make any shots Monday night, but he clearly took a couple. "Me and Jermaine are very close, but not tonight, not during the game," Rivers said. "We were born on the same day, two Libras, two stubborn fools." Rivers didn't need to motivate the Clippers. They were inspired enough. In a rare first-round blowout, they scored 105 points through three quarters, opening up a 32-point lead, and sending their starters to the bench for good. The 138-98 final score was the largest margin of victory in the club's playoff history, with the most points in the club's playoff history.
- Lee Jenkins -