OAKLAND — After dropping two straight games to the Los Angeles Clippers to fall behind in their first-round playoff series, the Warriors came out firing in Game 4 on Sunday by scoring 39 points in the first quarter on their way to a 118-97 win.
The win tied the series at two games apiece, ensuring the Warriors will return to Oracle Arena for at least one more game Thursday after playing Game 5 in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The series itself has taken a bit of backseat to the alleged racist comments by Clippers owner Donald Sterling that TMZ obtained.
Stephen Curry led the way for the Warriors by setting a franchise record for 3-pointers in a quarter of a playoff game with five in the first on his way to 33 points for the game, his second-highest total for a playoff game in his career.
Nearly all the scoring by the Warriors came on either 3-pointers by both Curry and Klay Thompson or dunks by David Lee and Andre Iguodala, something Curry attributed to finally breaking through the Clippers’ defense that kept him relatively in check the first three games of the series.
“Early in the first quarter,” Curry said, “I was able to find a way to set my man up so that we got a good screen on him and come off a lot freer than I have in the previous three games, and be able to step into some rhythm jump shots.”
The Warriors continued to push their lead throughout, getting it to as many as 22 points in the second quarter on their way to a 66-48 halftime lead.
It helped that the offense scored 27 fast-break points, the most the Clippers have allowed all season. It was what Iguodala called “random offense” in the open court that forced the Clippers to play on their heels.
Iguodala said he saw something after the Game 3 loss that boosted the team’s confidence.
“They were really excited after they won Game 3,” he said. “Like really excited. And that just let me know they just gutted it out. And right there we weren’t even playing our best basketball.”
The forward backed it up with his best game of the series so far, with 22 points and nine assists.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said the team’s improved play had to do with a change in the starting lineup, with Draymond Green taking the place of Jermaine O’Neal to open the game. It’s something Jackson said he had considered, but that O’Neal approached him with it of his own accord as well.
Green was tasked with guarding All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who averaged 33 points in the past two games. Griffin was held to 21 points and six rebounds in Game 4. DeAndre Jordan, who has dominated defensively, had only six rebounds and two blocks.