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Blazers' Stotts, Clippers' Rivers get into shouting match in preseason finale

Justin Ford / USA TODAY Sports

Want proof that honest-to-goodness meaningful NBA basketball is right around the corner? Head coaches are already engaging in shouting matches on the sidelines.

The Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers squared off Thursday night in the preseason finale for both teams, but there was little to suggest this was a meaningless game. Damian Lillard played over 38 minutes, hoisted 30 shots, and scored 39 points. Blake Griffin stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks. Neither team used more than five reserves. The Clippers stormed back from 35 points down to win. And the proceedings got testy and heated, with a total of seven technical fouls assessed.

Seven techs. In a preseason game.

Two of those were levied against the teams' respective coaches, who got into it near halfcourt late in the fourth quarter. Blazers coach Terry Stotts eventually ended the confrontation by dismissing Clippers bench boss Doc Rivers with a contemptuous wave of the hand.

Here's how CSN's Jason Quick describes the incident:

As they continued to trim the lead, more and more Clippers players began standing on the sideline. At one point, DeAndre Jordan stood in front of the bench with a towel around his neck, and craned his mouth into the ear of Blazers guard CJ McCollum. ...

Stotts, apparently, didn't like how close the Clippers' bench players were getting to his players who were in the game. According to Rivers, Stotts had words to some of the Clippers players.

"I have a lot of respect for Terry," Rivers said after the game. "I just don't think you ever talk to the other team's players, and that's what I told him. In the first half, when they were rolling and their players were jumping up, throwing towels, I sat there and took it."

Stotts said that what the Clippers were doing was not only an affront to his team, but a brazen disregard of a mandate sent down from the league office.

"Their bench was standing the entire fourth quarter," he said. "We've been given memos (from the NBA) about keeping the bench down, and I thought they were on the court at times. It was a situation that hopefully doesn't happen again."

Stotts' players, though, were grateful to their coach for sticking up for them.

"It meant a lot," Lillard said. "Meant a lot. I almost went over there and patted him on the back during the game to let him know: We with you."

The regular season begins in four days.

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