OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Los Angeles Clippers made a silent protest against owner Donald Sterling before Game 4 of their Western Conference playoff series against Golden State. The Warriors made a different kind of statement during the game.
And just like that, a series pulled into a race-related scandal took another twist.
Stephen Curry made a career playoff-high seven 3-pointers and scored 33 points, leading the Warriors past the Clippers 118-97 on Sunday to even their first-round series at 2-2.
“We wanted to come out and focus on all the work we’ve put in over the summer, throughout the course of the season to get ready for this moment in the playoffs and just have fun and enjoy it — not let one person ruin it for everybody,” Curry said.
The game almost became an afterthought — until tipoff anyway — after an audio recording was posted Saturday online by TMZ purportedly of Sterling making comments urging a woman to not bring black people to his team’s games. The alleged comments, which are under investigation by the NBA, have set off reactions of anger and calls for action through the league.
Clippers players made a silent protest against Sterling by shedding their warmup jerseys and going through the pregame routine with their red shirts on inside out. They also wore black bands on their wrists or arms and black socks in a show of solidarity.
Curry made his first five 3s to give Golden State a 20-point lead in the first quarter that held up most of the way. Curry shot 10-for-20 from the floor, including 7 of 14 from beyond the arc, and had seven assists and seven rebounds.
“I just thought they were the tougher team and it wasn’t even close. Should have been a first-round knockout,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Both teams agreed that Sterling’s purported comments affected their preparation, and neither side believed it was a determining factor in the outcome.
“I think both teams were somewhat bothered by what has taken place the last 24 hours,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “But my guys just played with great energy, great effort.”
Rivers blamed himself for not getting his players ready.
“I’m not going to deny that we had other stuff,” he said. “I just believe when the game starts, the game starts and nobody cares anymore. Golden State surely didn’t care.”
New NBA commissioner Adam Silver attended the game and met privately with former All-Star guard and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is advising the players union on the Sterling situation.
Silver has said he hopes for a quick resolution after the league investigates, and that Sterling has already agreed not to attend Game 5.
Blazers 123, Rockets 120 (OT)
In Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Trail Blazers took a 3-1 advantage in the series.
Nicolas Batum added 25 points in the first win for the home team in the series. It was the third overtime game of the series.
The Blazers haven’t advanced out of the first round since the postseason in 2000.
James Harden had 28 points and Dwight Howard added 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets.
Wizards 98, Bulls 89
In Washington, Trevor Ariza had a career playoff-high 30 points as Washington scored the first 14 points of the game and barely looked back in taking a 3-1 lead in their series.