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With Donald Sterling investigation lingering, Clippers drop Game 4 to Warriors

Apr 27, 2014, 7:06 PM EDT

Stephen Curry, Jamal Crawford Stephen Curry, Jamal Crawford

Blake Griffin backed down his man, extending his left arm – the one with a black wristband – to create space, and drew a foul.

For moments Sunday, maybe only brief ones, Game 4 between the Clippers and Warriors was about basketball rather than Donald Sterling.

The Warriors still couldn’t stop Griffin once he got the ball, but it didn’t matter, because Curry launched Golden State’s offense into the stratosphere.

Curry made all five of his 3-point attempts in first nine minutes and finished with 33 points, leading the Warriors to a 118-97 Game 4 win Sunday and tying the series 2-2.

Golden State blitzed the Clippers early, jumping to a 39-19 lead, and hardly looked back. The Warriors never trailed again, only briefly allowing Los Angeles glimmers of hope.

Of course, there’s the giant elephant in the room: Were the Clippers distracted by the Sterling situation?

It’s a question that’s impossible to answer definitively. Even the Clippers themselves can’t know how they would have performed otherwise.

Doc Rivers – who openly questioned his players’ readiness before the game – drew a technical foul and nearly a second, but he frequently argues calls. Chris Paulwho is also addressing the situation as players’ union president – battled foul trouble, but all Clippers-Warriors games lately, including this one, have been physical. DeAndre Jordanwho made the team’s first public response with an all-black Instagram image –  didn’t score, but he’s disappeared in big games before.

Nothing was completely out of character for the Clippers.

Still, questions about their focus will persist, and those questions are fair. It’s been a long time since an entire team played a postseason game under such turbulent circumstances

But don’t let those questions diminish what Golden State accomplished.

The Warriors went 51-31. They’re hardly a pushover capable of winning only when the opponent is distracted.

They beat the Clippers twice in the regular-season, including one 19-point victory. Even without Andrew Bogut, the Warriors won Game 1 in Los Angeles and took the Clippers to wire in Game 3.

And with Draymond Green replacing Jermaine O’Neal in the starting lineup, the Warriors became even more dangerous.

Really, Mark Jackson should have started Green with Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and David Lee from the moment Bogut went down. In the regular season, that lineup produced like the NBA’s best offensive team (123.4 points per 100 possessions) and best defensive team (89.2 points allowed per 100 possessions).

Even with undivided focus, the Clippers might not have handled that lineup well.

At whatever focus level they reached today, they handled the on-court challenge with only minimal success. Jamal Crawford scored 26 points, doubling his previous series high. Griffin, who entered the game with 83 points in 93 minutes this series, remained a load the Bogut-less Warriors can’t handle once he gets the ball. He scored 21 points on 14 shots.

But Lee and Green did a much better job denying him the ball. Griffin also turned the ball over four times amidst the increased defensive pressure.

For the Clippers to rally and win this series, they have plenty of on-court issues to address – slowing Curry while keeping Paul out foul trouble, sparking Jordan and finding Griffin more often.

Those might be the least of their problems, though.

  1. antistratfordian - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    2-2 was probably inevitable after such news.

    • blackandbluedivision - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:35 PM

      The power of the P-U-S-S-Y

  2. money2long - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    I’ll say it. Steph curry’s mom.

    • kb2408 - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      Dude, you beat me to the punch…his mama is FINE!!

  3. the8man - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    Inevitable? Really? Do you think the Warriors care about this? They love it. They’ll take the edge.

    This must be generational. No way in my day that players tank or allow the pursuit of a championship to be impeded by an owner’s questionable actions.

    These guys get paid millions to execute. There are no days off. If any of them want to prove something to me, they’ll walk away from their contracts in protest instead of showing up in red pennys or tanking.

    Anybody under 30 has a lot to learn about life, Ridiculous.

    • cfos00 - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:48 PM

      That’s absolutely unrealistic. If your company’s owner just got caught on tape speaking about your entire race as a inferior group of people, there’s no way that you don’t have some kind of emotional reaction. He just told most of his employees he doesn’t respect them as equals as humans, and then left his players and coaches to answer questions about it. If you don’t feel distracted by someone who is supposed to be on your side saying that you and your race are less worthy as people, you’re a robot. That’s not how most people actually work, and these players are people first.

    • nfl4days - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      I hate people who act like money somehow turns you into a cyborg incapable of feeling emotion or giving less than 100% effort all day every day. I’m not gonna use Sterling comments as an excuse because the clippers players wouldn’t want that, but the fact of the matter is they were affected by it. Knowing that you’re earning money and success for someone who views you as inferior and an enemy because of your skin is horrible to think about. Bill Russell and Kareem would be outside right now protesting and fighting this, playoffs or not.

      • jollyjoker2 - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:08 PM

        this guy meant it…it wasn’t a bad joke…The clips are going to pack it in and some of those guys are going to move on..they have options.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:12 PM

        Agreed. What he wrote is also incorrect in a business sense.

        Major corporations spend a ton of money trying to improve employee “morale” for a reason. It’s been demonstrated that poor employee morale hurts productivity and effectiveness, and therefore profits.

        I don’t care what your job is or how much money you’re earning. If your boss gets caught on tape saying horrible things about you and your family, describing you as below human, you’re not going to be very effective when it comes to doing your job and helping him earn money.

      • infieldhit - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:14 AM

        The Warriors lost by 40 in game 2. Sometimes teams just have bad games. After the tip, I don’t think the Clippers stop to think about what a jerk their boss is. If they won here, it’d be all about they “came together against adversity.” Narrative-building.

    • theghostofwillisreed - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:19 AM

      you need to realise these guys are human. grow up.

  4. seattlesuperchronic - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    What Sterling did and stands for is disgusting.

    But each media outlet trying to be more disgusted than the next is ridiculous. That first paragraph is trying way too hard to solicit reader emotion.

    We all knew how much of a bigot dirtbag Sterling was long before this story broke. Why weren’t the fine, hard hitting writers
    of PBT calling for this man’s job until now? Hmmm? I imagine whoever has been writing about this is wearing a black armband as they type this dreck.

    Try being this outraged when it’s not popular, than you’ll have people’s respect.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:56 PM

      Yes. I agree. Everybody loves piling on when there’s an obvious cause to take up. I’m sooooo tired of hearing about it already; especially when I knew all about Sterling years ago. We all did; we just didn’t react like this at the time. Let’s get back to basketball. The playoffs are off to a great start and I want the TNT crew talking about it.

    • casualcommenter - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:15 PM

      That’s a fair point.

      As awful as Sterling’s recent comments are, the fact that he was successfully sued years ago for blatant discrimination when it came to renting out apartments to low-income minorities is even more disturbing than him reprimanding his mistress for taking photos with Magic Johnson.

    • Wammy Giveaway - Apr 27, 2014 at 9:28 PM

      The reality was, it took a tabloid like TMZ to get Sterling’s character publicized. In the old days, nobody believed the Clippers because they were losers. Sterling pretty much conspired to prevent his employees from talking about how he runs his franchise. In fact, I think there’s a huge conspiracy going on within the NBA, and it all points back to him.

      If the league wants to be trusted and not be labelled a rigged sport, they must get rid of Donald Sterling immediately as possible.

  5. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    Steph Curry heat check!

  6. loungefly74 - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:07 PM

    “Waaaarrrrrriiiorsss, come out to pla-ay!”

  7. rcali - Apr 27, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    Um, the Clips players will move on if somebody offers them more money. It’s always about the money, let’s not get all naive just because of some comments made by a well known bigot. We’re talking about millions of dollars here not your minimum wage job or your office job pay scale.

  8. cubb1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:29 AM

    Sterling needs to do everybody a favor and just drop dead.

  9. rainmaker1982 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:39 AM

    I don’t really understand this whole investigation. So what if he said that? Does he not have the right to freedom of speech?

    However, Sterling is a moron and I don’t condone him saying those things. In fact, this is going to mentally collapse this Clippers team.

    How do these players and coaches go on after knowing their owner is disgusted by their race?

    Just when the Clippers were getting good again, Sterling finds a way to sabotage it.

    And what will Clipper Darrell do?

    • infieldhit - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:04 AM

      Yes, he has freedom of speech, which just means he won’t get arrested.

  10. davidly - Apr 28, 2014 at 5:06 AM

    Once again, superchronic with clarity. The ostensible action pursued by the league is overdue — and the affected outrage on display from the media is too much, too late, absurdly overwrought.

  11. flyrocket31 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    i don’t think you can fault the situation in why the Clippers lost that badly. Sticks and stones. he didn’t do anything to the players just is saying them so it shouldn’t affect their overall play.

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