OAKLAND, Calif. — 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 two games apiece.
“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 warm-up 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.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he knew what his players had planned but didn’t voice his opinion. He said he wasn’t thrilled about the demonstration, though he didn’t elaborate why.
Curry and company did a better job focusing from the start.
The All-Star guard 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 to help the Warriors snap a two-game losing skid.
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. Johnson even held a news conference during halftime that spilled well into the third quarter.
TRAIL BLAZERS 123, ROCKETS 120, OT
PORTLAND, Ore. — LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 10 rebounds and Portland beat Houston to take a 3-1 advantage in their first-round playoff series.
Nicolas Batum added 25 points in the first win for the home team in the series, which moves to Houston for Game 5 on Wednesday. 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
WASHINGTON — Trevor Ariza had a career playoff-high 30 points, and Washington scored the first 14 points of the game and barely looked back in taking a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference series.
John Wall added 15 points and 10 assists for the Wizards, who forced 16 turnovers and committed only six. Washington played without forward Nene, who was suspended for grabbing Jimmy Butler by the head in Game 3.
The Wizards are looking to win a playoff series for only the third time since the 1970s. They can finish off the Bulls in Game 5 on Tuesday in Chicago.
Taj Gibson scored a career-high 32 points on 13 for 16 shooting for Chicago, but his teammates combined to go 22 for 62 from the field.
RAPTORS 87, NETS 79
NEW YORK — DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, Kyle Lowry added 22, and Toronto evened the first-round series at two games apiece.
Amir Johnson had 17 points for the Raptors, who started fast, gave up all of a 17-point lead, then shut the Nets down over the final 5 minutes to snap a 13-game road losing streak in the playoffs that went back 13 years.
Game 5 is Wednesday night in Toronto, with the series now guaranteed a return to Brooklyn on Friday for Game 6.
Paul Pierce scored 22 points for the Nets, who were 3 for 17 in the fourth quarter and didn’t have a field goal after Pierce’s basket with 6:13 left gave them a 77-73 lead.
By wire sources