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 three-pointers and scored 33 points, leading the Warriors past the Clippers 118-97 yesterday 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 threes to give Golden State a 20-point lead in the first quarter that held up most of the way.
"I just thought they were the tougher team and it wasn't even close. Should have been a first round knockout," Rivers said.
The Clippers had 19 turnovers, while the Warriors had a series-low 15 turnovers.
Andre Iguodala added 22 points and nine assists, and David Lee, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes each scored 15 for the Warriors.
Jamal Crawford scored 26 points, and Blake Griffin had 21 points and six rebounds for the Clippers.l
* At Washington, Trevor Ariza had a career playoff-high 30 points, and the Wizards scored the first 14 points of the game and barely looked back in a 98-89 win over the Chicago Bulls.
The victory gave the Wizards 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.
Taj Gibson scored a career-high 32 points on 13 for 16 shooting for Chicago.
* At New York, DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, Kyle Lowry added 22, and Toronto evened the first-round series at two games apiece with an 87-79 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
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.