Rivers called for a timeout with 1:31 remaining in an attempt to advance the ball. However, he was hit with a technical - much to the delight of his son, Rockets guard Austin Rivers - and was sent packing when he protested the call.
Rivers attempted postgame to untangle the confusing sequence of events.
"The refs screwed up," Rivers told reporters. "I made a challenge (earlier in the game). They actually said I was right in the challenge, but I took over the 30-second time to call it. So then the two refs walked over to me and told me, 'That that means you don't win the challenge, but you get your timeout back.' The arena actually put the extra timeout back on the board.
"So we think we have two timeouts. I think it because two refs actually came over to me and told me, told all of our assistants, and told our players. That's why everybody reacted that I had a timeout."
Rivers said he wishes the officials were upfront about their role in escalating the misunderstanding.
"Listen, I'm fine with that if they had told me, but the officials can't tell me that I get my timeout back, then have me use it, then tell me after the fact, 'You don't have it,'" he said. "That was big. Those mistakes cannot happen.
"And what bugged me the most was that the two officials that told me, they ran away. They just let (referee) Tony Brothers handle it. I mean come on, you can't do that. In a four-point game, that can never happen."
Brothers, the officiating team's crew chief, shed some light on the matter postgame, confirming Rivers and the Clippers "were incorrectly informed they would retain their timeout" after attempting to use a coach's challenge earlier in the game.
"After (Rivers) was told that he lost his timeout during the challenge, as you can expect, he became upset and he was given an opportunity to try to get his composure, but it didn't happen," Brothers said. "He came out onto the floor when we wanted to start resuming play. He was given a technical foul. (After) the first one he says, 'I don't care,' and he continued to stay on the floor so he was given a second technical and ejected."
Houston held on for the 102-93 victory.