It has been a tough few days for anyone associated with the Los Angeles Clippers organization, and things simply got worse for the franchise on Sunday with a 118-97 blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Game 4.
The convincing win now knots the series up at 2-2 and gives the Warriors the clear edge in the matchup heading back to Los Angeles.
Stephen Curry put together a huge performance with 33 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He also only turned the ball over twice. Teammates Klay Thompson and David Lee combined for another 30 points, and Andre Iguodala added 22 points and nine assists to help pace the Warriors.
Curry finished 10-of-20 from the field, including 7-of-14 from three-point range. He was deadly from all over the court, totaling his second-best scoring postseason game ever, as Golden State Stats points out:
This is the second-highest scoring game of Stephen Curry's playoff career (33 points). His career high is 44 points (May 6, 2013 at SA)— GSWStats (@gswstats) April 27, 2014
On the Clippers side, Jamal Crawford finished with 26 points off the bench and Blake Griffin tallied a total of 21 points and six rebounds to go along with Chris Paul's 16 points and six assists in the losing effort.
Before the game got underway, the Clippers made a huge statement to show solidarity under duress for the franchise. Following Donald Sterling's alleged controversial comments that were released over the weekend, the entire Los Angeles team took off its warm-up tops and wore its shirts without the logo displayed.
Dan Woike of the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Register noted the protest during pregame:
Clippers take off warm-up gear, drop them at mid court t-shirts on backwards. pic.twitter.com/FbdNBzY2Js— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 27, 2014
After the statement made before the start of the game, the Clippers came out flat to start Game 4. Golden State shot the lights out throughout the first quarter and the entire first half as Curry got off to a hot start.
The Warriors scored a total of 39 points in the first quarter, getting the job done from behind the arc and finding lanes inside the paint for players like Iguodala and Lee. Jimmy Spencer of Fox Sports and David Aldridge of TNT explain both sides of the start for the Clippers and Warriors:
Stephen Curry’s intensity raised to such a higher level when he gets going early. Changes the #Warriors entire team.— Jimmy Spencer (@JimmySpencerNBA) April 27, 2014
Doc Rivers said pregame he thought some of his players wouldn't be able to function today. He was right. Warriors score 39 in the first.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) April 27, 2014
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! shared quotes from Doc Rivers, who, like Aldridge said, saw the situation as a distraction for his team:
Doc Rivers: "were not happy with any of it. Were going to let the due process happen." Doc added that "it upsets me and upsets this team."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 26, 2014
Doc Rivers says the Clippers will play Golden State in Game 4. Rivers called it "a distraction."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 26, 2014
After a huge first frame, the second quarter was much of the same for the dominant Golden State team. The Clippers scored 24 points in both quarters, but trailed by 18 at the half as the Warriors claimed a 66-48 lead heading to the locker rooms.
Much of that success was from the trio of Curry, Lee and Thompson, who combined for a staggering 47 of the team's first 62 points, as Spencer notes:
The big three of Curry, Lee and Klay has 47 of the Warriors’ 62 points right now. Shooting a combined 17-of-26 (65%). #Warriors lead 62-38.— Jimmy Spencer (@JimmySpencerNBA) April 27, 2014
Nothing was off limits for Curry, who even knocked down this circus shot with the team already ahead by a comfortable margin.
The great play wasn't only limited to offense, either, as the Warriors shut down the Clippers on multiple long possessions. But when Golden State got down on the other side of the court, sharing was caring in the first half, per the team's official Twitter account:
Golden State finished with 15 turnovers, its lowest total of the series thus far.
The Warriors cooled off somewhat at the start of the second half, but still found a way to put up 23 points in the third quarter, just as many as the Clippers mustered up in the frame.
Along with the sharpshooting of Curry and Thompson, getting up and down the court with relative ease was a clear point of emphasis for the Warriors as well. ESPN Stats & Info notes a shocking stat during the second half:
The @warriors have 25 fast-break pts, the most allowed by the Clippers in any game this season— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 27, 2014
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Warriors still held an 18-point lead over the Clippers and appeared to have the game in hand. While Los Angeles made several surges to get back into the contest, Golden State pulled away again with relative ease to clinch the game in the final quarter.
The massive win for Golden State was its largest margin for a win in the playoffs since 2007, when the team upset the No. 1 Dallas Mavericks in the opening round, via Golden State Stats:
Warriors win, 118-97. The 21-point win is their largest playoff victory since beating Dallas by 25 on May 3, 2007. Series tied, 2-2— GSWStats (@gswstats) April 27, 2014
Who will win this series?
After winning the pivotal Game 4 at home, the Warriors will now have to win another road game against the Clippers in Los Angeles. With confidence after taking the first game of the series at the Staples Center, the Warriors might have enough momentum to carry them to a series lead before heading back to Oakland.
In order to do that, they will need to continue finding ways to get Curry some room to shoot and limit turnovers much like they did on Sunday.
But despite the distractions from off the court for the Clippers, the team still has a wealth of talent and will look to improve defensively in Game 5. Tipoff for the fifth game of the series will take place on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET at the Staples Center on TNT as both teams look to gain the upper hand.
After a surprisingly lopsided victory for the Clippers on Sunday night, expect a much more competitive game from two teams with championship aspirations in the Western Conference.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter: