LOS ANGELES (AP) – Hours after owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life, the Los Angeles Clippers returned to an energized Staples Center and beat the Golden State Warriors 113-103 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
DeAndre Jordan had 25 points, a playoff career high, and 18 rebounds while Chris Paul scored 20 points.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers high-fived each of his players near the bench in an uncommon display of excitement as the final seconds ticked away. Jamal Crawford of the Clippers hugged and slapped hands with fans at courtside on the way to the locker room.
“I thought they were great,” Rivers said of his players. “I thought they were tired a lot, and that was the result of the last few days. I just thought they had great mental toughness. They wanted to will this game, and I’m just proud of them.”
Commissioner Adam Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million and called on NBA owners to force him to sell the team for making racist comments.
The Clippers were greeted with a standing ovation when they came out for pregame warmups. They kept on their Clippers warmup suits, unlike Sunday in Oakland, when, in a silent protest against Sterling, they tossed their sweatsuits bearing the team logo onto the court and went through their pregame routine with their red shirts on inside out.
Players from both teams wore black socks.
With so many sponsors bailing on the Clippers, there were few advertisements on the video boards. A few non-digital signs were covered over.
The PA announcer constantly reminded the crowd, “We Are One.”
One fan wore a T-shirt that read: “Sterling Out Equality In.”
The Clippers are on the brink of just their third playoff series victory since Sterling bought the team in 1981. Game 6 is Thursday night in Oakland.
Crawford scored 19 points for the Clippers while Blake Griffin had 18 and Darren Collison 15.
Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 21 points. David Lee and Andre Iguodala scored 18 apiece while Stephen Curry had a so-so game with 17 points, including four 3-pointers.
Griffin scored eight points in the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter. Jordan made six of eight free throws in the final period.
With the Clippers leading by three points early in the fourth quarter, Griffin scored two quick baskets to make it 83-78.
He made a turnaround jumper to push the lead to 90-81 with 7 minutes to go.
Curry stole the ball and hit a 3-pointer to give the Warriors a 70-69 lead late in the third quarter.
Paul answered with a 3-pointer to put the Clippers up 72-70. Crawford then poked the ball away from Curry, broke free, got the pass for a dunk and a four-point lead with 1:11 left.
Paul hit another 3 with 1.1 seconds left in the third for a 77-72 lead.
Jordan had four blocks and Paul had five steals.