LOS ANGELES >> The door to the losing locker room swung open as Doc Rivers headed for a postgame news conference. The scene inside revealed the latest twist in the Clippers’ wretched reality.Paul Pierce chuckled about plans for retirement, J.J. Redick’s eyes grew red as he fought back tears, DeAndre Jordan ignored questions about the future.Raymond Felton went locker to locker, saying goodbye; Jamal Crawford remained seated, answering text messages, the last to pull off his uniform; Blake Griffin was thousands of miles away for a consultation with a doctor for his injured toe.This was how a season ended. Maybe an era, too. “They beat us four times,” he said. “Scored more points than we did four times.”Three of the Clippers’ four losses in the series came at Staples Center and the Clippers set a strange record befitting their painful past: They became the first team in NBA history to blow a series lead – this one at 2-1 after three games – in five consecutive postseasons.It has been an exercise in, as Redick put it, “recurring disappointment.”The loss that the Clippers will have to live with was the result of a disjointed, dispirited effort.Utah shot 50 percent from the field and made six of its 13 3-point attempts. The Jazz outrebounded the Clippers by eight. The Clippers held Utah’s Rudy Gobert to just one point in 14 minutes as the star center was plagued with foul trouble throughout the game.Derrick Favors stepped up in Gobert’s place, leading the Jazz bench with 17 points and 11 rebounds.In the third quarter Utah’s lead ballooned to 21 points. The Clippers pulled within eight on a 3-pointer by Redick with 3:28 left in the fourth, but they never got closer than that.It was the Jazz which earned a semifinal matchup with the top-seeded Golden State Warriors and the Clippers who have invited all kinds of questions.“Winning is not easy,” Redick said, a Dodgers cap pulled low over his brow. “Winning it all is certainly extremely difficult. So, you know, some teams aren’t meant to figure out those answers I guess. Maybe next year we will.”The Clippers’ last stand was a disjointed, dispiriting attempt at prolonging a season that was destined to fall short of their goal.“You never go into playoffs saying, ‘I hope we get out of the first round,’” Redick said. “What the (heck) kind of expectations is that? Never go into a season, ‘Hey, I hope we go to the second round.’ Those aren’t expectations.”The Clippers wanted to win a championship. After storming to a 14-2 start in November, the best mark in the NBA, some started to believe, perhaps, that they could.Then Griffin required surgery to remove detritus in his knee. Paul tore a ligament in his thumb.“That all means nothing,” Paul said, “know what I mean? It came down to today to keep us afloat, keep us alive. The start don’t mean nothing. It’s how you finish. Once again … we’re done.”Owner Steve Ballmer made a point after the game of popping into the Clippers’ video room to thank each member of the team’s staff.All eyes this summer will be on Ballmer. He is worth more than $31 billion, but has to determine whether it is worth the $220 million, including luxury tax, it will take to re-sign Paul, Griffin and Redick this offseason, a steep bill for a likely repeat of what he just watched unfold.Ballmer and Rivers musts decide if they believe this core, with tweaks to the rest of the roster, can eventually contend for a championship. Paul, Griffin and Redick must consider whether they would have a better shot at winning elsewhere.Griffin has until June 28 to exercise the early termination option on his contract. Paul has an extra day. In all, nine players from this roster will likely be free agents.Jordan declined to answer whether he thought the core would ever play together again. Instead, he turned his head from the questioner and stared in the other direction.Would he lobby Paul and Griffin to return? No answer.Does he want them to return? No answer.“That’s probably the furthest thing from my mind right now,” Redick said when asked about his own decision. “Playoffs are always emotional. It was an emotional series for both teams, an emotional series for me. I’m just processing emotion right now.”Griffin played just 100 minutes of the 336 in the series before suffering an injury to the plantar plate of his right toe in the first half of Game 3.“Not having Blake, obviously, is a major would,” Rivers said. “When you take you best scorer, your second-best rebounder, your second-best passer off a team. … But give Utah credit.”Added Redick: “I would like to get a crack healthy.”That is not how this team operates. The curse lives on, and it will until the Clippers prove it does not exist.Another year, maybe. This one is over. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error After forcing a Game 7 in a wild and tense opening-round series against the Utah Jazz, in which the first six games were decided by an average 5.1 points, the Clippers went limp, losing, 104-91.Six dominant efforts from free-agent-to-be Chris Paul had brought the Clippers to this point, but their All-Star point guard scored just 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting on Sunday. He attempted nine shots in the second half, missing eight.Meanwhile, seven players scored in double figures for the Jazz, who were led by 26 points from Gordon Hayward.“We just lost today,” Jordan said. “The season’s over.”Jordan pinched the bridge of his nose when he spoke, a crude effort to dam the tear ducts that would eventually burst.
No goal for Carolina. The puck somehow went through the side of the net. 🤷♂️— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 4, 2019And the rest of Twitter followed suit, adding their thoughts on the odd play.Jaccob Slavin’s shot went *through* the net. Originally called a goal and quickly called off. That’s… something. pic.twitter.com/GT9Fhkt7dx— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) December 4, 2019$5 Billion Dollar League. #NHL #Bruins #NHLBruins #Canes pic.twitter.com/PQHScvZiQp— The 300s (@The300sBoston) December 4, 2019We must build a wall to stop pucks from illegally crossing into our net! #NHLBruins— Bruins Trump (@BruinsTrump) December 4, 2019The net was tended to at the intermission by the best in the business so nobody could “score” again this way.Net in Boston that had puck go through its side is being attended to by the net doctor. #CARvsBOS pic.twitter.com/r6164JZIzK— Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon) December 4, 2019The score between the Hurricanes and Bruins remained 0-0 after two periods. MORE: New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero puts onus on underperforming players after John Hynes’ firingThe rubber disk made its way through the netting itself, broke through the twine and sent Twitter ablaze in the process. The call on the ice was initially ruled a goal, but instant replay quickly revealed what really happened.“That is wacky.” 😂Jaccob Slavin has a goal called off because it went *through* the net.#IceSurfing pic.twitter.com/D852Ectkrg— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 4, 2019The Carolina Hurricanes were not thrilled but used the opportunity to get in on the recent “gonna tell my kids” internet trend.Well that really stinks— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 4, 2019Gonna tell our kids this was a goalpic.twitter.com/kyuuM77aiG— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 4, 2019The Boston Bruins didn’t seem to mind — after all, the game remained tied. Hockey fans may have seen this kind of glitch before in a video game, but one strange play in Tuesday’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins has many wondering if they have ever seen a “goal” like this before at the NHL level.When Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin sent a backhand shot on-net with 2:09 left in the middle frame, the puck entered the net — but not in the conventional way.