Yes, there was an important game to play. However, that was hardly the only thing on the minds of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers came out of the locker room united. The players shed their warm up jackets that read “Clippers” at center court and revealed their shooting shirts that were flipped inside out. Their silent protest of Donald Sterling’s disturbing racial comments didn’t end there. The players also wore black socks and accessories. While it wasn’t quite the protest that some expected, such as not playing in Game 4, it was a solid sign of unity and was a classy touch. The Clippers players play the game for themselves, their families, and their fans. They do not play for a racist owner. The Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets would later wear black socks to show solidarity with their NBA brethren.
Despite the fact that the Clippers came out unified, they were clearly not in the correct frame of mind to play a crucial Game 4 at Oracle Arena. The Warriors quickly jumped on the Clippers and continued to pour it on throughout the game. Stephen Curry, who has been in a slump so far this series, finally had a breakout performance and scored 33 points. Curry hit 5 three-pointers in the first quarter, a quarter in which the Warriors outscored the Clippers 39-24. The Warriors continued their strong shooting all game long and ratcheted up their defense when they needed it. The Clippers cut the lead to 11 in the fourth quarter but could never quite find their rhythm. Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick provided a nice boost off the bench, combining for 38 points. However, even with Blake Griffin scoring 21 points, it wasn’t close to enough.
The Clippers will now head back to Los Angeles in a tied series and with a lot more questions regarding Sterling coming their way. The NBA is expected to conclude its investigation before Tuesday night’s Game 5. Sterling will likely be served a hefty fine and a long suspension. However, that suspension will do nothing to calm down the media blitz that has surrounded the Clippers over the past 36 hours. Doc Rivers is going to need to find a way to empower his players and guide them through this difficult scenario. Rivers himself is also going to have to deal with these questions. It’s an incredibly difficult and unfortunate situation; however, the Clippers team can do make a strong statement and protest on Tuesday Night at Staples Center in front of their home crowd.
Sometimes life comes before basketball. The Clippers have the opportunity to make a big statement in Game 5. I expect them to take full advantage of this opportunity and send a message to society as a whole. Hopefully they’ll be able to play Clippers basketball in the process.