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.
MORE: Clippers' protest | Carlos condemns Sterling
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.
"I just thought they were the tougher team and it wasn't even close. Should have been a first round knockout," Rivers said.
Golden State outshot Los Angeles 55.4 to 42.9 percent. The Clippers had 19 turnovers, while the Warriors had a series-low 15 turnovers.
Both coaches and players 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 stu