LOS ANGELES — This wasn’t a normal playoff basketball game.
There was pregame talk of boycotts, some protesters outside Staples Center, with fans showing up in black.
But with NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s punishment of Clippers owner Donald Sterling satisfying the masses, basketball had a chance to be fun again for all involved.
The Clippers won 113-103 in a game that involved the usual physical play with the Warriors, and there were times things did seem normal.
“I was really proud of them,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of his players.
The Warriors’ Stephen Curry spoke of the need for his team to prevent the Clippers from getting off to a hot start, but the home team did take a 31-21 lead. Curry said he knew the Clippers would be emotional from the start.
“From then on, it kind of felt like a regular playoff game where you’re focused on basketball,” Curry said. “We did our job the first quarter. We just couldn’t get enough stops.”
And now, the Warriors have their backs against the wall. One more loss, and they’re headed toward an offseason of uncertainty.
But the real winner on Tuesday was the NBA because basketball took a step toward being the focus of all the talk surrounding this series.
“I hope so, I doubt it,” Rivers said. “Let’s be honest. I think this is going to last for a couple more days, and we have to go there now. It’s going to be brought up all over again. But I think like Adam and we said, the healing process has started.
“I just can’t want to talk about just basketball.”