After a distracting and emotionally taxing few days for the Los Angeles Clippers, the team turned the focus back to basketball.
On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a lifetime ban and $2.5-million fine against Clippers owner Donald Sterling over racist comments.
Hours later, the Clippers took Game 5, beating the Golden State Warriors 113 to 103 and pulled ahead 3-2 in the first round of the playoffs.
Here are some of the best moments from the Clippers first Sterling-free game.
When fans showed up wearing shirts like this and holding signs like this:
When the Clippers players ran out of the tunnel to a standing ovation from fans, and kept on their warmup suits.
The scene was in stark contrast to Sunday’s silent protest when the players threw their jackets at centre court and warmed up with their team shirts inside-out, hiding the Clippers’ logo.
When players from both teams wore black socks as a sign of solidarity.
When Clippers power forward Blake Griffin netted 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
“I don’t think any of us knew how big this was going to be,” said Griffin after the game.
When asked how the team reacted when coach Doc Rivers told the players the news about Sterling’s ban, Griffin said there was no applause, but “a collective sigh of relief as a team.”
When DeAndre Jordan scored a playoff-career high 25 points and 18 rebounds.
When Clippers guard Jamal Crawford hugged and slapped hands with fans at courtside on the way to the locker room.
Crawford said the distraction the Sterling scandal caused was “monumental.”
“You couldn’t shake it. You’d try to take a nap, you’d wake up, and you’d think it’s a bad dream. You couldn’t shake it but it drains you, even mentally more than physically. I’m glad we had the strength to get through it. With that cloud over you, you never know. This thing could have gone either way.”
When Doc Rivers high-fived his players after the Clippers beat the Warriors 113-103.
As the clock ticked down in the game, Rivers showed an uncharacteristic display of excitement, high-fiving his players.
When Chris Paul, who had 20 points and seven assists, talked about the Clippers fans after the game.
“It’s one of the most emotional things I’ve ever been a part of.”
“It was amazing running out for warm-ups, to see all the people lined up, to see our fans, because…I wasn’t sure what we would come back to. It was emotional.”
© Shaw Media, 2014