The Clippers, a team many expected to compete for an NBA title, are suddenly on the verge of extinction, thanks in no small part to Luka Doncic’s masterful, 42-point performance in Wednesday night’s Game 5 at Staples Center. Kawhi Leonard, a two-time Finals MVP responsible for one of the greatest buzzer-beaters in playoff history, had a chance to be the hero late but bricked what would have been a game-tying three, missing the hoop entirely on his errant heave with 4.9 seconds remaining. That misfire apparently drew the ire of teammate Rajon Rondo, who was none too pleased with Leonard’s shot selection, throwing up a prayer from 23 feet with Mavs forward Dorian Finney-Smith glued to him like white on rice.
Rondo, a former champion with the Lakers and Celtics, has never been one to hold his tongue, routinely letting his emotions take over. Leonard’s air ball brought an anticlimactic end to a tough evening for the Clippers (and Kawhi, in particular), who shot an anemic 41.3 percent from the floor while putting up their fewest points (100) of the playoffs. Rondo, for his part, did little to stop the bleeding, contributing a single point on miserable 0-for-6 shooting in his 21 minutes of court time.
The veteran’s visceral response to Leonard’s miss—captured in the screen grab below—predictably went viral with some Twitter users comparing it to LeBron’s animated reaction to J.R. Smith, who, as many will recall, inexplicably forgot the score late in Game 1 of the 2018 Finals at Golden State.
If the Clippers fall again Friday night in Dallas, not only would it eliminate them, but it might also end Leonard’s tenure with the team. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year had hoped to bring a championship to his native Los Angeles but could look for greener pastures in free agency by exercising the opt-out clause in his three-year, $103-million contract this offseason.