Stephen Curry scored 17 points in a scintillating first quarter as the Golden State Warriors opened a 20-point lead and never looked back en route to a 118-97 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday in Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round series at Oracle Arena.
With the series now tied 2-2, the scene shifts back to L.A.’s Staples Center for Game 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Curry finished with 33 points and seven assists, hitting 7-of-14 from beyond the arc. But he did his best work early, as the Warriors blitzed the Clippers with a 19-9 run late in the first quarter en route to a 39-19 lead.
L.A. cut the advantage to 39-24 by the end of the period, but never got the deficit back inside double digits the rest of the way.
The closest the Clippers got was when Chris Paul hit three free throws after he was fouled by Curry on a 3-point attempt with 6:01 to go in the game. That brought L.A. back to within 100-90, but the Warriors responded with a 9-0 run to put the game on ice.
Andre Iguodala had his strongest offensive game of the series, finishing with 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting and dishing out nine assists, and Klay Thompson, David Lee and Harrison Barnes each scored 15 points as Golden State shot a sizzling 55.4 percent on the day (41-for-74) and canned 15-of-32 from 3-point range.
The Warriors’ 15 3-pointers was one off the franchise playoff record; Golden State hit 16 3-balls against the Mavericks in Game 5 of their first-round series in 2007. They have hit 15 in a game two others times, both against the Jazz in the Western Conference Semifinals in 2007, turning the trick in Games 2 and 3 of that series.
The Clippers, who wore their warm-up shirts inside-out as a protest against racist comments attributed to team owner Donald Sterling that were released by TMZ.com on Saturday, shot just 42.9 percent in the game and committed 19 turnovers. Jamal Crawford led L.A. with 26 points off the bench, while Blake Griffin added 21 points. Chris Paul finished with 16 points and six assists, but was limited to 32 minutes because of foul trouble.
DeAndre Jordan, who has given the Warriors fits in the middle during the series, was nearly completely neutralized, finishing with six rebounds and two blocked shots. He did not score a point and attempted just one shot, as the Warriors went small to combat the Clippers’ size advantage, starting Curry Thompson, Lee and Iguodala along with Draymond Green, who scored only four points in 41 minutes, but did an effective job of limiting Griffin’s touches.
So the series is about as even as it can be—the teams have traded close victories and blowouts and now it’s down to a best-of-3.
In NBA history, the team that wins Game 5 of a series that is tied 2-2 goes on to win the series 83 percent of the time.
So that makes Game 5 sort of important.