The Los Angeles Clippers' players staged a silent protest against owner Donald Sterling before Game 4 against the Warriors, then played like they were dramatically affected by the scandal.
Los Angeles Clippers RECAP
97 - 118 Tied 2-2
Golden State Warriors RECAP
120 - 123 3-1 POR
Portland Trail Blazers RECAP
5 things to know
The Clippers make their statement
Well, there's our answer. Would the Donald Sterling controversy boiling over impact the Clippers on the court? You betcha. Several players admitted to having lots on their minds as the Warriors smoked them Sunday, and Doc Rivers conceded that he has no idea what returning home to Los Angeles will do to the players' mindsets. Sterling is the biggest story in the country right now -- not basketball, not sports, but anything -- and it seems every talking head on TV and disembodied voice on radio has an opinion on what the Clippers players themselves should do.
They offered a subtle but effective protest on Sunday, wearing their shooting shirts and practice jerseys inside-out and donning black wristbands and socks. They piled their warmups at center court, together.
But expectations and the mood will be seriously different in L.A. on Tuesday. One assumes Sterling's usual seat will be filled with someone less detestable, and there's a chance the NBA will have already fined or suspended him by tip-off. But the players are reportedly considering a bigger protest, there's a movement to get fans to wear black to the game and the whole thing is just going to be a massive scene with extra media attention and pressure. This isn't fair to the players, but there's no way around it at this point.
Weep for the Clippers, but remember that the NBA could have -- should have -- done something about this long ago. -Tom Ziller
The game did not go as planned
What to make of the Clippers from here on out? The alleged comments made by Donald Sterling, and the massive league upheaval that followed, have turned this series from a riveting basketball showcase to a referendum on the league's most notorious owner. Doc Rivers and his players have been forced into a no-win situation, but at least Doc's not pulling any punches about his feelings.
On the court, watching Stephen Curry turn Oracle Arena into a bloodthirsty Coliseum crowd once more was a thing of beauty and the one thing this year's spectacular first round was lacking. Curry went off for 33 points, including five straight three-pointers to open the game, as the Warriors sprinted past the Clippers and never looked back.
As the series turns back to Los Angeles Tuesday night, all eyes will be on new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Sterling, Rivers, Chris Paul -- who had just 16 points and six assists Sunday afternoon -- and Blake Griffin. Until the focus returns to the basketball court in Clipperland, the Warriors will have the advantage. -Ethan Rothstein
Another late night in Portland
The Blazers and Rockets went into overtime because of course they did. That’s three times in four games, but who’s counting? The details, the how and the why, only blend together into a continuous loop of endless threes and mystifying possessions. Regulation in this series is only a time construct.
Despite the best effort of Dwight Howard, who played like the superstar Houston signed him to be, the Blazers left Portland with the win and a 3-1 series lead. You can analyze this series any way you want and break down a dozen different things, but no game in this series has been decided by more than seven points.
We have had buzzer beaters, near misses and unlikely star turns from the likes of Troy Daniels and Mo Williams, who buried a three late in regulation after Jeremy Lin dribbled the ball off his foot. This series could still go either way, but right now it’s going in Portland’s direction and more chaos is expected in Game 5 back in Houston. -Paul Flannery
The Raptors dig deep
The Raptors hadn't won a road playoff game since 2001, Kyle Lowry was hurting and things were falling apart in the second half after building up a 17-point first-half lead. At one point in the third quarter, Toronto had made just one out of 16 shots, as Brooklyn stormed back on their home floor behind the cagey veterans the team acquired for these types of grind-it-out affairs.
The game stayed tight heading down the stretch, but after a Paul Pierce layup put the Nets up four with 6:11 left, it was the Raptors who dug down and made the crucial plays on both ends to nab the victory and tie up the series at two. Brooklyn didn't make a single field goal after Pierce's layup and committed a bevy of turnovers in key situations. Lowry gutted out a knee injury that was clearly bothering him, assisting on a clutch Greivis Vasquez three and scoring the last five points of the game to seal the win and end Toronto's 13-game road playoff losing streak.
It certainly wasn't the prettiest of wins, but aesthetic beauty doesn't matter in the playoffs if you don't pick up the victory. The Raptors did what needed to be done, grabbing one game in Brooklyn and heading back to Toronto with a chance to take control of the series. -Jason Patt
The future has arrived
Don't let the box score fool you: the Wizards' 98-89 win over the Chicago Bulls to take a 3-1 series lead was all about their two young guards. On the fourth play of the game, 20-year-old Bradley Beal diagnosed Chicago's set and jumped a Joakim Noah entry pass to Carlos Boozer, stealing the ball and going the length of the court for the finish. On the very next play, Beal stayed attached to Mike Dunleavy, the man who killed the Wizards in Game 3, and 23-year-old John Wall got in Kirk Hinrich's grill to force a floater. Off the miss, Wall took an outlet pass, pushed hard up the floor, then stopped on a dime to hand off to Trevor Ariza for a trailing three. Swish, 7-0 start, tone set.
The Bulls never stood a chance from there. Sure, they made runs, and sure, it got interesting late, but they could not compete with those two budding stars when they were that locked in. On one end, their ball pressured ensured we wouldn't see a repeat of Dunleavy's huge Game 3. On the other end, both made smart decisions, with Wall in particular dissecting Chicago's vaunted overload side pick and roll defense for open corner threes and rolls to the rim for Marcin Gortat. Their numbers were pedestrian -- hell, Wall shot just 4-15 -- but that's also the point. They didn't overwhelm the Bulls with their individual talent; they outthought them. They enabled players like Ariza, Gortat and Trevor Booker to put up the numbers. As Wall said after the game, "I don't mind being a decoy."
Wall is 23 years old. Beal is 20. The future is bright in D.C. -Mike Prada
Miami Heat at Charlotte Bobcats Miami leads 3-0 | 7 p.m., TNT Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, N.C.
Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers Series tied 2-2 | 8 p.m., NBATV BankersLife Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Dallas leads 2-1 | 9:30 p.m., TNT American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas