The postseason continues for the Los Angeles Clippers, who won a pivotal Game 7 Saturday night, days after the team's owner was banned for life by the NBA. The Clippers ended the Golden State Warriors' season in a back-and-forth game that came down to the final minute.
In a high-octane game that was marked by the Warriors' 3-point shooting and the Clippers' dunks late, Los Angeles held on to win, 126-121.
The game was played before a rowdy crowd at the Clippers' home court, where players and fans have coped with the controversy that exploded last weekend over racist remarks made by team owner Donald Sterling.
"I just thought this team really needed the game," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said afterwards, "not because of not winning last year – I just thought with all this stuff, this team just needed this win."
Rivers was vociferous at the game's end, yelling and celebrating the victory with the crowd.
"I needed to exhale some too," he said, acknowledging that it's been a hard first-round series, on and off the court.
"I just needed to be able to smile, and laugh, and cheer, and be proud of something," Rivers said. "And I was very proud of my players."
The Clippers move on to a second-round matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who beat the Memphis Grizzlies in their own Game 7 Saturday.
Hours before last night's game, the NBA announced the league is in the process of choosing a new CEO to run the Clippers' operations.
The NBA hopes to force Sterling to sell the team, which could bring a higher price now that the Clippers' profile has been raised on the national level.
NPR's Uri Berliner reports for All Things Considered:
"Before the Sterling implosion, Forbes valued the team at $575 million. Sports business executive Adam Grossman says they could now easily fetch $650 million. And other NBA watchers think the price tag could even top a billion dollars."