OAKLAND — The Clippers seemed weighed down Sunday afternoon in Game 4 by all the controversy that has engulfed them.
And even though it was not of their own making, but that of owner Donald Sterling, the Clippers were in the storm and tried to stay afloat.
But they could not avoid their albatross and a hot Golden State team, dropping a 118-97 decision to the Warriors at Oracle Arena.
Instead of talking about the best-of-seven first-round series being tied at 2-2 or about regaining home-court advantage with their Game 3 win, the Clippers had to talk about Sterling's alleged racist comments about African Americans.
A voice reported to be Sterling's is heard in an audio recording released by TMZ on Friday night telling a friend that he was upset she posted a picture on Instagram of herself next to Lakers legend and Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson. The person on the recording didn't want his friend to be associated with black people.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers had tried to prepare his team for a playoff game with all that was going on.
From the start, the Clippers looked out of sorts, going down by 23 points in the first half.
"Once the game starts, there's no excuses not to play and to play like we played," Rivers said. "That's my fault. It really is. I gotta do a better job. Whatever the distractions, whatever, I gotta do a better job. I didn't do my job tonight. I take that personally."
Now the Clippers return home for Game 5 on Tuesday night at Staples Center for the first time since Sterling's alleged comments.
"And usually that would mean we're going to our safe haven," Rivers said. "And I don't even know if that's true, to be honest."
Said Clippers guard Chris Paul: "I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about what it is going to be like.. Our fans have been amazing all season long and obviously I hope that it will be the same. You just never know."
The Clippers showed a symbolic gesture of unity before the game.
They took the court for warmups, all of them taking their blue warmups off in unison and dropping them near the mid-court circle. Then it was revealed their red shooting shirts were turned inside out, the Clippers' logo hidden as they went through the layup line.
They also wore black wrist bands and black socks.
"It was just something we thought of as a group," guard J.J. Redick said.
Sterling, who was at Game 3, didn't attend Sunday's game.
But his wife, Shelly Sterling, sat courtside across from the Clippers. She wore black.
"It doesn't bother me," reserve guard Willie Green said about Shelly Sterling being at the game. "I saw her sitting across from our bench."
The Clippers couldn't get a grip on Stephen Curry and the Warriors' three-point shooting.
Curry had 33 points on 10-for-20 shooting, making seven of 14 from three-point range.
The Warriors shot 46.9% (15 of 32) from three-point range, and 55.4% overall.
Forward Blake Griffin maintained the game was just "like every other game."
"Every day, like I said yesterday, there's distractions all the time," said Griffin, who had 21 points. "All the time there's distractions."
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