Mired in controversy after racist comments attributed to their owner, the Los Angeles Clippers have suffered one of the worst losses in their NBA playoff history.
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, levelling 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.”
Meanwhile, Trevor Ariza scored an NBA playoff career-best 30 points to spark Washington over Chicago 98-89, putting the Wizards on the brink of advancing to the second round.
The Wizards lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup 3-1 with game five in Chicago on Tuesday.
Ariza sank six 3-pointers to spark the Wizards while John Wall contributed 15 points and 10 assists, Bradley Beal added 18 points and Poland centre Marcin Gortat scored 17.
“A stunning win for us. Definitely better basketball than we played Friday, especially on defence,” Gortat said. “It was a must win for us. We have a lot more confidence going to Chicago for game five.”
It was the Bulls’ seventh loss in the past eight playoff appearances.
“We turned the ball over too much. That was a huge problem,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You can’t put it on any one guy. It’s our team readiness to play. It’s disappointing. It has got to change or our season will be over. We’re not looking to make any excuses. We’ve got to do better.”