C.J. McCollum is having a breakout season for the Portland Trail Blazers. He's started in all 36 of his appearances, and his 21 points-per-game average is second on the team behind only Damian Lillard.
So, when Clippers head coach Doc Rivers had the opportunity to keep a healthy McCollum from playing against his team on Wednesday, naturally, that's exactly what he did.
The Blazers mistakenly left McCollum off the active list, and head coach Terry Stotts signed the lineup sheet and turned it into officials without noticing the error. The two teams had a conference call with the NBA to see if the honest mistake could be ignored, but rules are rules, so McCollum was forced to sit.
Rivers reportedly had the chance to let the Blazers off the hook, but according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian, he decided to decline instead.
Behind the scenes, the Blazers were fighting for McCollum to play. They sought a rules clarification from the NBA and disputed the timing of the incident.Don Vaden, the NBA’s director of officials, was at the game and mediated the situation with both teams.
In the end, according to a league source, the NBA gave Clippers coach Doc Rivers the option to let McCollum play. He declined.
About 30 minutes before tipoff, the Clippers’ coaching staff was noticeably animated outside the visiting locker room. When asked why after the game, Rivers said they were trying to get a handle on McCollum’s playing status.
“We were trying to figure out what the heck,” Rivers said. “We knew you couldn’t change the rule, because it happened to us. But it’s not on us to do that. That’s all on them.”
Allen Crabbe started in McCollum's place, and finished with 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting. The Clippers won by a final of 109-98, and obviously, Rivers was all smiles afterward.
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