LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Clippers, buoyed by the NBA’s tough action against owner Donald Sterling, beat Golden State on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) to grab the lead in their first-round playoff series.
Clippers coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers said the controversy that erupted over racially charged remarks by Sterling, which became public at the weekend, had left his players drained.
But with the rapturous support of home fans they came through for a 113-103 triumph over the Warriors that gave them a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference series.
“I was really proud of them,” Rivers said. “I thought you could see them getting tired from all the emotional baggage over the last four days.”
DeAndre Jordan scored 25 points and pulled down 18 rebounds for the Clippers. Blake Griffin added 18 points and seven rebounds while Chris Paul finished with 20 points and seven assists.
The game came hours after NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from all NBA participation for life, fined him $2.5 million and called on other NBA owners to vote to force him to sell the team.
“I think it put a lot of guys’ minds at ease,” Paul said of Silver’s tough stance. But nothing prepared them for the welcome they received from their fans.
“When we ran out for warm-ups, it was one of the most emotional things I’ve ever been a part of,” Paul said. “We have a tough locker room, all of us are tough. But it almost brought tears to your eyes . . . to feel the support of our fans. I wasn’t sure what we would come back to.”
Clippers fans had also felt the weight of Sterling’s transgressions, wondering how to back the team while knowing the owner would reap the most financial rewards from their support.
Clippers season ticket holder Andy Mendoza said he “definitely would have” had second thoughts about attending Tuesday’s game if Silver hadn’t acted as he did.
The NBA sanctions give him confidence, Mendoza said, that Sterling “will get what he deserves toward the end.”
Wizards advance with win over Bulls
John Wall scored 24 points to lead the Washington Wizards to a 75-69 victory over the Chicago Bulls and into the second round of the NBA playoffs on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Wall added seven rebounds and four assists in the victory, which gave the Wizards a 4-1 triumph over the Bulls in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.
Washington’s Brazilian big man Nene scored 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds.