The Sixers, who pulled into a virtual tie with the New York Knicks for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, improved to 35-33. The Clippers dropped to 26-43.
On a three-pointer by Jrue Holiday, who finished with 20 points, the Sixers took a 95-81 lead with 4 minutes, 23 seconds remaining and sent a good amount of folks heading for the exits. Jodie Meeks led the Sixers with 22 points.
One couldn't help but wonder if Collins' first-half ejection was born of strategy or was merely an emotional reaction.
With 15.8 seconds left in a combustible first half - a few minutes earlier, Clippers star Blake Griffin nearly picked a fight with Sixers reserve Tony Battie - Collins was hit with back-to-back technical fouls, the second of which earned him an escort off the Staples Center floor.
Collins squeezed the most out of his final few seconds on the court, walking onto the hardwood to continue debating what he almost surely felt was a lack of calls for his team, and then gathering his players for a few final words of wisdom. Collins then walked through the tunnel, absorbing the sold-out crowd's resounding excitement.
Associate head coach Michael Curry took over coaching duties.
Because Collins' team was coming off of back-to-back losses, and because in each of those games there was a frightening lack of intensity on the part of the Sixers, it wouldn't have been a twisted strategy for Collins to demand they win this game themselves.
More likely, though, Collins was foot-stomping, arms-crossed angry over the foul discrepancy and what appeared to be one singular lopsided call against Battie. In the first half, Griffin was awarded 13 free throws (he made six of them) and the Sixers were awarded, as a team, 11 free throws (they made eight).
Really, though, everything shifted with 2:38 left in the half. The game had been puttering along, another run-of-the-mill NBA game, when Griffin took excessive offense to Battie's transition foul of the high-flying superstar.
Griffin was charging ahead on a breakaway, with defenders Meeks and Battie surrounding him. After Meeks ran past Griffin, swiping backward at the ball, Battie attempted to lock up Griffin and appeared to try to keep Griffin from falling. Griffin sprang off the court and nearly went after Battie, clearly misunderstanding Battie's intentions.
Initially, Battie was whistled for a flagrant foul 2, which means immediate ejection, but that was almost immediately downgraded to a flagrant foul 1, which allowed Battie to stay in the game.
The energy inside the Staples Center had increased and so, too, had each team's effort.
Last night's game ended too late for this edition. For coverage, go to http://go.philly.com/sixers.
Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/DeepSixer3, and read her blog, Deep Sixer, on Philly.com.