Here is a link to my Monday column about Game 4 between the Warriors and Clippers. The full text runs below:
OAKLAND — It’s impossible to know how much Donald Sterling loused up his team. You know about the racist remarks attributed to him.
His Clippers rolled over for the Warriors on Sunday, 118-97, a massacre from the start. The Clippers tried but they never were in the game. More like dead on arrival. And who can blame them?
Put all that aside because you must put it aside. This is a basketball story about a basketball game in a basketball playoff series. And while you may feel sorry for the Clippers — I do — you can’t give them an excuse, not that they even want an excuse. This playoff series had to continue and the Clippers had to do business. And they did not.
It was the Warriors who did business, who pushed aside all the ugliness — not as ugly for them as L.A. — and ran the Clippers off the court, out of the arena, to their plane and back to Southern California as the Warriors evened the series two games apiece and showed their courage and skill. The Warriors need make no apologies for taking advantage of the Clippers, if they even did take advantage. They were here to play, were paid to play. Wow, did they play.
Take the case of Stephen Curry. He is the Warriors’ superstar. He may be the greatest shooter in the history of the NBA. That includes a lot of great shooters. But in the first three games of this series, he was dormant in the first quarter. Sometimes, he remained dormant. He was someone we didn’t recognize, a stranger who got double-teamed and passed the ball to his supporting cast. And nothing much came of it.
Curry was suffering from a case of Latent Chris Paul. He thought, just because he’s the Warriors’ point guard, he was supposed to play like Paul, a passer, someone who sets up the other guys. But Curry is not Paul. He is a dynamic scorer. He is a combo of Paul and Blake Griffin — passer/scorer — and on Sunday he let loose his inner Griffin. Scored 17 points, sank five 3s in the first quarter, just got off. He ended the game with 33.
He allowed his superstar ego to express itself. He is not paid to be shy. He is paid to impose his will on the game. “I was looking for any space I could get,” he said. “I come off screens, usually they have been trying to trap, but tonight I was able to step into a couple of quick 3s. Once you hit a couple early, it seems like there’s more space that opens up.”
Like the Grand Canyon. Curry would get a slice of light — you could see the lighted space between him and a defender, like magic — and up he went, the ball lofting out of his right hand, easy, smooth, beautiful. The ball sinking into the hoop. No net.
Curry needs to be assertive and selfish, needs to shoot for the Warriors to win this series. And they can win. Their Sunday victory tied the series at 2-2, and rarely has a team shown guts like the Warriors.
“Mark (Jackson) must have done a wonderful job of getting (Curry) free,” Doc Rivers said afterward, Rivers seeming overwhelmed by circumstances, some basketball and some life. “I think they did a lot of things. And then we must have done some bad things defensively.”
When the game ended — the whole thing emotional and just plain weird considering the back story — Mark Jackson came to the interview room, his voice hoarse, his face tired. Someone asked if the Clippers were affected by the controversy.
“No. No,” he said. “I believe everybody was affected by what took place. I don’t believe it was just the Clippers. I don’t think there was anything said directly towards the Clippers and their players. It was insulting to all of us. So, I wouldn’t minimize. We got blown out in Game 2 with no controversy. We own that.”
Jackson renounced the controversy as reason for the blowout. He may be correct.
Rivers addressed the same issue. “Golden State surely didn’t care. It’s like when a player plays with an injury. (Opponents) don’t care they’re injured. They’re going to come out and try to attack you. If we were injured physically or mentally, the other team didn’t care and they really shouldn’t care because it’s a competition.”
Then he said something else, poignant in the extreme. “We’re going home now. And usually that would mean we’re going to our safe haven. And I don’t even know if that’s true, to be honest.”
Paradise lost. Or certainly imperiled.
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