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Clippers struggle early in 118-97 Game 4 loss to Warriors

April 27, 2014|By John Cherwa
  • Clippers point guard Chris Paul drives against Warriors point guard Stephen Curry in the first half of Game 4 on Sunday in Oakland.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul drives against Warriors point guard Stephen… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

Blame it on missed shots. Blame it on it being a game the Clippers didn’t have to win. Or blame it on the Donald Sterling distraction. But wherever you place the blame, the realization is this first-round playoff is now a best-of-three series.

The Golden State Warriors pretty easily dominated the Clippers, 118-97, at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Sunday afternoon. The best-of-seven series is now tied, 2-2. Game 5 will be Tuesday night at Staples Center. If the series goes to a deciding seventh game it will be Saturday at Staples.

Full coverage: The Donald Sterling controversy

There’s little doubt that the specter of Sterling’s alleged racist comments was a backdrop to this game but it’s doubtful it can explain a 17-point first quarter by Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who made his first five three-pointers.

Sterling did not attend the game. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to rule by Tuesday on the authenticity of the recording that captured racist comments attributed to Sterling. If there is a punishment, it is expected to be either a fine or suspension or both.

Curry finished as the game’s leading scorer with 33 points on 10-for-20 shooting. He made 7 of 14 three-pointers. Andre Iguodala added 22 points for the Warriors.

The Warriors built a 23-point lead at one point and the Clippers were never able to get it closer than nine, which they did early in the fourth quarter.

The game was physical and hotly contested despite the lopsided score.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers basically conceded the game with about three minutes to play when he pulled Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Jamal Crawford, coming off the bench, was the Clippers' leading scorer with 26 points on 8-for-18 shooting. Griffin had 21 points.

One problem for the Clippers was the absence of Jordan, who didn’t score in 25 minutes of play. He had only six rebounds, only one of those on offense.  

Can the Clippers leverage the homecourt into a 3-2 advantage Tuesday night? The answer awaits.

Warriors 89, Clippers 71 (end of third quarter)

The Clippers made a few forays into cutting the lead to single digits but could never get closer than 11 points and go into the final 12 minutes down by 18.

Too big a deficit? Probably but stranger things have happened.

The Clippers started the second half with a 6-0 run on a three-pointer by Chris Paul and a three-point play -- basket and free throw -- by Blake Griffin. Combine that with scoring the last five points of the second quarter and the Clippers had put together an 11-0 run to cut the lead to 12.

But the Warriors were able to extend the lead back to 17 points on a couple of Andre Iguodala baskets.

Fouls continued to be a subplot in this seeming runaway as Klay Thompson picked up his fifth with 3:48 to play in the third quarter that will likely put him on the bench until midway into the fourth quarter. Paul got his fourth with 3:16 left.

The Clippers did make a run late in the quarter with a couple of three-pointers by J.J. Redick, cutting the lead to 11 with 2:20 left. But the Warriors' 7-0 run to end the quarter took care of that.

Stephen Curry remained the game’s leading scorer with 26 points and teammates David Lee and Thompson each had 15.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 21 points, while Jamal Crawford had 16.

Warriors 66, Clippers 48 (halftime)

Entering the second quarter, the Clippers had to feel fortunate to only be down 15 points. They needed to cut the lead to single digits by the time halftime rolled around.

Well that didn’t happen. In fact, the Warriors extended their lead to 18, taking a 66-48 advantage into the half.

The early part of the quarter was much more even than the first quarter. Jamal Crawford carried the Clippers for the first half of the second quarter, scoring eight straight Clippers points with a pair of three-pointers and two free throws. However, the Clippers couldn’t make a dent in the Warriors' lead.

One thing that could help the Clippers in the second half is the fact that Klay Thompson picked up his fourth foul with 4:06 left in the second quarter. There were actually a few players -- all Clippers -- whose participation in the second half could be jeopardized by foul trouble. Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Crawford all have three fouls.

It could have been worse for the Clippers as they trailed by as many as 22 late in the quarter. But luckily, Stephen Curry, who scored 17 in the first quarter cooled off, adding only four points to that total in the second.

Crawford was the leading scorer for the Clippers with 16 points, with Blake Griffin adding 12.

David Lee and Thompson each added 13 points to Curry’s 21 for the Warriors.

Warriors 39, Clippers 24 (end of first quarter)

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