LOS ANGELES – 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 best-of-seven Western Conference first-round playoff series.
DeAndre Jordan had 25 points — a playoff career high — and 18 rebounds while Chris Paul scored 20 points for the Clippers.
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.
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, a graduate of Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, hugged and slapped hands with fans at courtside on the way to the locker room.
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“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.”
Crawford scored 19 points, giving him 45 in the last two games.
Klay Thompson, a former Washington State standout, led Golden State with 21 points.
In addition to the ban, commissioner Adam Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million and called on league owners to force Sterling to sell the team for making racist comments in a conversation with a woman that was recorded.
The Clippers were greeted with a standing ovation when they came out for pregame warmups. Players 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 to hide the team name.
Players from both teams wore black socks.
While the ban of Sterling was greeted with widespread acclaim, it raised some questions for the long-troubled franchise.
Many of the Clippers’ sponsors ended or re-evaluated their relationship with the team in the wake of Sterling’s incendiary racial remarks that became public last weekend.
It is too soon to know whether Silver’s sweeping ruling will return those sponsors to the Clippers and the NBA, but the team’s fans shouted their support for players throughout the game.
“My message to the Clippers’ fans is this league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach, any one player,” Silver said. “This institution has been around for a long time, and it will stand for a long time, and I have complete confidence in Doc Rivers, in the basketball management of that club, and the players deserve their support. They’ve just been through an incredibly difficult incident in their lives.”
The public-address announcer frequently reminded the crowd, “We Are One.”
One fan wore a T-shirt that read: “Sterling Out Equality In.”