Clippers ride wave of emotion to take playoff lead over Warriors

Written by Reuters | Los Angeles | Updated: May 1 2014, 19:25pm hrs
Preaching the mantra of unity, the Los Angeles Clippers got back to winning ways against the Golden State Warriors just hours after disgraced team owner Donald Sterling had been banned from the game for life on Tuesday.

With the National Basketball Association having also fined Sterling $2.5 million for racist comments that drew outrage from players, fans and commercial sponsors, the Clippers rocked their home Staples Center venue as they beat the Warriors 113-103.

Two days after being pounded 97-118 in Oakland, where they were clearly distracted by the first reports of Sterlings divisive comments, the Los Angeles players were energized as they seized a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series.

Chants of We Are One! We Are One! echoed around the arena during the fourth quarter as empassioned Clippers fans roared their team on to victory, center DeAndre Jordan pouring in 25 points, a playoff career high, along with 18 rebounds.

All-Star guard Chris Paul weighed in with 20 points while Jamal Crawford contributed 19 from the bench but it was the sense of closure following NBA Commissioner Adam Silvers tough stand against Sterling that set the tone.

I think it put a lot of guys minds at ease in that locker room, Paul said of Sterling being barred from any role in the operations of his franchise or from serving as one of the leagues governors.

Its definitely been tough the last few days, but weve been getting through it.

When we ran out for warm-ups, it was one of the most emotional things I think Ive ever been a part of. We have a tough locker room, all of us are tough, but it almost brought tears to your eyes just to feel the support from our fans.


Clippers head coach Doc Rivers had predicted before the game that a soldout Staples Center would be a safe haven for his team, but even he was taken aback by the crowds high-octane energy.

They were awesome, thats as good as Ive ever seen them, Rivers told reporters. Theyre unbelievable. Everybody was going through this. Its almost like everybody wanted to exhale tonight. It was good.

Repeatedly during Game Five, the public address announcer kept reminding the fans: We Are One.

In response, the crowd kept raising the decibel level while waving placards ranging from For Sale. Racists need not apply and Im here for Griffin, not for Sterling to Everyone is Different, Respect the Differences.

Clippers guard J.J. Redick paid tribute to his team mates for rebounding from their lackluster display in Game Four on Sunday, and also to the crowd for pulling together in the wake of the Sterling controversy.

Our team showed some great mental toughness, said Redick. Its crazy to me to think that a team as good as Golden State didnt get our full attention for three days, and thats human nature, but we were distracted (for Game Four).

The Clippers will aim to wrap up their Western Conference quarter-final series against the Warriors when they return to Oakland for Game Six on Thursday.

Warriors almost boycotted

The Golden State Warriors were prepared to boycott Tuesdays playoff game against the Los Angeles Clippers had the NBA not sufficiently punished their opponents team owner Donald Sterling over a racist comments scandal.

The Warriors opted to play, suffering a 113-103 loss to fall 3-2 behind in the best-of-seven series, but the contest was in jeopardy until NBA commissioner Adam Silver acted swiftly to punish the 80-year-old Sterling for remarks that have caused widespread disgust.

If the league had said were going to give a small fine and wait to see what happens it wouldve put more on our hands and the Clippers hands to do more tonight, Warriors big man David Lee told reporters at Staples Center.

More would have included walking off the floor in a show of protest, an act the Warriors proposed earlier in the day.

The Warriors went through their pre-game shootaround with an eye toward Silvers news conference, which began around the time their practice session concluded.

Somewhere in the midst of waiting for Silver to announce his decision, Golden State made one of their own - that if the NBA did not take a strong stance, they would. We knew as players we had an opportunity to have a voice, Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry said.

As the day went on (the plan to boycott) probably wouldve got more concrete. But the way conversations were going, Im pretty sure it might have happened had (Silver) not done such a great job speaking for the league and taking a stand.