Racism cloud hangs as Clippers turned inside out
Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick's (4, left) shot is blocked by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30, right) during the fourth quarter in game four of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Photo by Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
OAKLAND - Mired in controversy after racist comments attributed to their owner, the Los Angeles Clippers suffered one of their worst losses in NBA playoff history on Sunday.
Stephen Curry scored 33 points, 17 of them in the first 8:30, to power the Golden State Warriors to a 118-97 victory over the visiting Clippers, leveling their Western Conference best-of-seven opening-round series at two wins each with game five Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Andre Iguodala added 22 points for the Warriors while Jamal Crawford came off the bench to lead the Clippers with 26 points.
Blake Griffin added 21 points and Chris Paul had 16 for the Clippers, who made a silent protest before the game by dumping their warm-up uniforms in the middle of the court and turning their red shirts inside out so the team name and logo were not visible.
"It was just something guys talked about," Clippers star guard Paul said. "It had nothing to do with the game."
But for many, the focus was less upon the outcome and more on the aftermath of Saturday's release of recordings that purport to have Clippers owner Donald Sterling saying he does not want black people to attend his team's games.
"I think both teams were somewhat bothered by what has taken place in the last 24 hours," Golden State coach Mark Jackson said. "It was insulting to all of us. Everyone was affected, not just the Clippers."
The Clippers played like the controversy was a distraction, even though they denied it had any impact upon their performance.
"It was just like any other game," said Clippers star Blake Griffin.
"There are distractions all the time. We didn't do what we were supposed to do. We didn't stick to the things that made us successful. We've just got to lock in and get ready for game five. We've got to correct our mistakes and get better."
When asked if the racist remarks could have sapped the team's spirit and taken a toll, Paul replied, "Nope.
"It's about those guys in the locker room. We prepared. We went to training camp. It's what we've been working to do."
Blocking it out "is what we do," said Paul, who blamed himself for not guarding Curry better.
Clippers coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers took the blame on himself for not preparing the team better.
"I thought I did the right stuff to get them ready and I really didn't. I have to do a better job," Rivers said. "And if it's because of the other things, it's still my fault.
"I know what's going on. I get it. But we still have jobs to do and we didn't do them tonight. It starts at the top and it starts with me. I just didn't like our spirit. I liked it before the game. I was just wrong on it. I can't blame them for that."
For now, Rivers is searching for the common thread to unite his players before the series and the season slip away.
"I've got a job to get our team right no matter what is circling," Rivers said. "They are getting pulled in so many direction. We have to figure out how to pull them in one direction."
Curry applauded the Clippers for how they handled the controversy.
"It's unfortunate that it's taking off what's going on on the court," Curry said. "Kudos to the Clippers for handling it the way they have. It's all about the players and what's happening on the court. Hopefully fans can focus on that."
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