The LA Clippers needed everything they had to beat the Phoenix Suns to secure the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoffs, including overcoming a brief heated disagreement on the bench between Mason Plumlee and Bones Hyland in between the third and fourth quarters.
At the end of the third quarter of the Clippers' all-important 119-114 win over the Suns in Phoenix, Plumlee and Hyland got into an argument over what appeared to be a defensive breakdown on a possession seconds earlier.
Clippers coach Ty Lue said the two teammates cleared the air.
"They worked it out," Lue told reporters after the win. "That's OK. Everything's good."
The Clippers will face the Suns in a best-of-seven first-round series starting Sunday in Phoenix. Things will get a lot tougher for the Clippers because they will have to face Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, who were among seven Suns held out in the regular-season finale.
On Sunday, the Clippers had their hands full with the Suns' reserves, and things got tense when Plumlee and Hyland seemed to be upset over communication about who was supposed to get out on the perimeter to guard Terrence Ross, who took and missed a wide-open 3 with 8.8 seconds left as Hyland got screened by a big man.
After Plumlee scored on a dunk at the end of the third, the Clippers big man walked back to the bench and said something to Hyland. The two teammates then got face to face, exchanging words before Hyland pushed Plumlee. Teammates quickly got between the two to diffuse the brief situation.
The two appeared to get on the same page during the break. Lue started the fourth quarter with Hyland and Plumlee on the floor and they helped erase a four-point deficit with a 10-6 run.
"It is a big game, so if it ain't right, do something to fix it," Lue said of Plumlee and Hyland. "And after that little skirmish we took off and played a lot better. So maybe we should do that more often."
The Clippers were feeling the pressure needing a win over the Suns to secure the fifth seed and stay out of the play-in tournament. If the Clippers lost to Phoenix, they could have dropped as low as seventh.
Despite not having to face the Suns' stars, the Clippers trailed by as much as 11. The game was tied with 6:46 remaining.
Kawhi Leonard scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including the Clippers' final eight points to secure the win.
Leonard also had 15 rebounds and six assists.
"Took all we had," Leonard said in a postgame interview with Bally Sports. "Guys in and out all season. ... [The season is] not over yet."
The Clippers will have to start the series against Durant's Suns without All-Star Paul George, who recently started exercising as he continues to rehab his way back from a sprained right knee. The Clippers said there is no timeline for George's return.
"It's going to take all we have," Leonard said.