NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, April 27th (All times Eastern)
(3) Los Angeles Clippers (2-1) at (6) Golden State Warriors (1-2), 3:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers will play Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Golden State Warriors Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena amidst a world of controversy surrounding their team.
Clipper owner Donald Sterling was allegedly caught on tape by TMZ.com spewing racist thoughts earlier this weekend.
LA head coach Doc Rivers spoke to the media on Saturday and said the team discussed the situation, including a possible boycott of Game 4, and decided to play, a statement echoed by the team's leader and President of Players Association.
"As players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep our focus on our game, the playoffs, and a drive to the finals," All-Star guard Chris Paul said.
TMZ.com posted nearly 10 minutes of audio it said is a conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend in which a man tells a woman he is bothered by her association with African Americans and asks her not to bring them to Clippers games.
"The audio recording by TMZ is truly offensive and disturbing," Commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday night. "We intend to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible."
Silver levied no sanctions against Silver on Saturday, but indicated the investigation would be wrapped up in the next few days. As for possible penalties, Silver said there are options.
"There are broad powers in place in the NBA's constitution and bylaws that include a range of sanctions," Silver said. "All of those will be considered depending on the findings of our investigation."
Silver stated that Sterling will not be in attendance Sunday afternoon for Game 4.
The Warriors fell 98-96 Thursday night in Game 3 at home. After stealing Game 1 at the Staples Center, Golden State has lost the home-court edge and needs a win on Sunday to avoid heading back to Los Angeles for an elimination Game 5.
"You don't want to go down to LA down 3-1, backs to the wall," guard Klay Thompson said after practice Friday. "Next game, we have to be the ones to throw the first punch. We have to be the first ones to make an impact."
On Thursday, the Clippers nearly blew a double-digit fourth-quarter lead, but held on for the win.
Blake Griffin scored 32 points, while Paul and DeAndre Jordan each contributed double-doubles in the win. Paul had 15 points with 10 assists and Jordan registered 14 points with 22 rebounds.
"We did a poor job there in the second half of the third and then most of the fourth," Griffin said. "But the promising part is we played well in the third quarter there. We got stops and shots, then when it came down to it, we got stops when we needed to. But we can't let them back in the game like that."
LA had as high as an 18-point lead in the third quarter. Golden State fought back and trailed by four inside the final minute.
Stephen Curry dished to a wide open Harrison Barnes, who missed a 3-pointer, but David Lee swatted the ball out to Curry to give the Warriors another chance.
Curry passed it back to Lee at the elbow, then Lee dropped it back off to Curry, who made a deep trey that cut the deficit to one with 11 seconds left.
Paul, who missed two crucial free throws in Game 1, split a pair to increase the lead to two with 8.6 seconds on the clock.
Curry handled the final possession for the Warriors, and instead of playing for the tie, the Golden State sharp-shooter attempted a go-ahead 3-pointer. He took it right to Paul in the closing seconds, but Paul stood strong on defense and forced an off-balanced shot from Curry, who came up with nothing but air as the Clippers held on.
Most of the Warriors believed Paul fouled Curry on the final possession, but whistles were silent.
"Chris did a good job putting the hands on him, and then when he went up for the shot, I mean, he's supposed to be able to come down," said Golden State coach Mark Jackson.
Thompson paced Golden State with 26 points, while Curry deposited a 16-point, 15-assist double-double. Draymond Green netted 13 points with 11 rebounds in the setback.
Lee added 12, Andre Iguodala netted 11 and starting (for now) center Jermaine O'Neal chipped in 10.
With regular pivot man Andrew Bogut sidelined with a rib injury, Griffin has had his way with Golden State's interior defense. Lee was pulled quickly in the third quarter and Green spent most of his night defending Griffin.
All of this could mean a new look from the Warriors.
"I could make a change, I won't say whether I will or with who, but it's possible," hinted Jackson. "We've got to figure out a way to present some resistance. I think things are going a little too smoothly right now for Blake."
The Warriors have won five of six, eight of 10 and 15 of the last l7 at home against the Clippers.
Game 5 will be Tuesday night at Staples Center.
04/27 10:26:23 ET