It was a sign of solidarity amid controversy; a move of protest and emphasis.
The gesture, however, did not carry over into Sunday afternoon’s game at Oracle Arena. The Warriors sprinted ahead with a barrage of 3-pointers in the first quarter and kept the Clippers at a comfortable distance for the duration.
The 118-97 loss for the Clippers evened the best-of-seven first-round playoff series at two games apiece and sent things back to Los Angeles with a new aura of uncertainty surrounding what has already been a bitterly contested week and a half.
Prior to the game, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he had no idea how his team would react from a mental standpoint.
“From a coaching standpoint, you’re concerned,” Rivers said. “They’ve been pulled in a million directions over the last 24 hours.”
It took nearly the entire first quarter for the Clippers to pull themselves out of a defensive malaise. The Warriors scored 25 of the game’s first 35 points and nailed seven of their 14 3-pointers in the opening period. The Clippers, led by Jamal Crawford’s 26 points off the bench, played virtually even with Golden State the rest of the way, but the opening 6:36 burned them.
Stephen Curry scored 17 of his game-high 33 points in the first and finished with seven rebounds and seven assists. It was the All-Star’s first true breakout game of the series after Chris Paul and the Clippers had kept him under constant defensive pressure in the previous three meetings. Paul had 16 points, six assists and five rebounds. Blake Griffin scored 21 points with six rebounds.
Paul, Griffin and Crawford were removed from the game with 2:45 left after the Warriors regained a 17-point lead just minutes after J.J. Redick missed a 3-pointer that could have cut the Clippers’ deficit to seven. Redick finished 12 points and made three of his six 3-pointers.
The Clippers, though, were outdone by 19 turnovers that led to 26 Warriors points. They shot just 42.7 percent from the field and allowed 15 Warriors’ 3-pointers and 32 assists. They were outshot by nearly 15 percent overall and head home with echoes of the taunting “Warr-iors” chant and yellow confetti trailing them off the Oracle Arena floor.
The series, which has had its share of topsy-turvy swaps of momentum has seemingly shifted back in favor of the Warriors. The Clippers left to regroup Tuesday night’s pivotal Game 5.