LOS ANGELES -- Doc Rivers wasn't sure what kind of crowd response the Los Angeles Clippers would get when they returned home for Game 5 of their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
But after Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life by the NBA in response to racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation, Rivers' fears about the crowd reaction and, more important, the future of the team were calmed.
"I do believe this will be a safe haven for us and our crowd will be amazing tonight. I think that will help them," Rivers said before the game. "The 14 guys that we dress, they did nothing wrong and they need support and I think that will happen."
Clippers fans not only came out to support the team, Staples Center was sold out as fans came to the game wearing black shirts and chanting, "We are one!" throughout the night.
While very little advance focus was paid to the game, the Clippers finally had something to celebrate after a tumultuous 72 hours. The Clippers beat the Warriors 113-103 to take a 3-2 series lead. They can close out the series on Thursday in Oakland.
How it happened: The Clippers fed off the energy of their faithful early in the game, going up by 11 points in the first quarter and 13 points in the second quarter and controlling the tempo. All this despite Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combining for only 13 points on 3-of-16 shooting in the first half. The Warriors came back in the third quarter and took the lead before the Clippers finally pulled away in the fourth quarter for the win.
What it means: The Clippers have the Warriors on the brink. If they don’t eliminate Golden State on Thursday, Game 7 would be Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Hits: On a night when Griffin and Paul struggled to get going, DeAndre Jordan was the unlikely offensive force, scoring a postseason career high of 25 points, grabbing 18 rebounds and getting four blocked shots. Paul finished the game with 20 points and seven assists, and Griffin had 18 points and seven rebounds. Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison combined for 34 points off the bench.
Misses: No big concerns on the night, but J.J. Redick was 0-for-3 from beyond the arc and finished with only six points on 3-of-8 shooting. The Clippers also lost Hedo Turkoglu for the game and maybe the series because of a lower back contusion in the third quarter.
Stat of the game: 19,657. After much talk about the attendance for the game, the Clippers recorded their 138th consecutive sellout ... and it was as loud as it has ever been at Staples Center.
Up next: The Clippers will take on the Warriors in Game 6 of their first-round series on Thursday at Oracle Arena.